The Realm of Venus Presents...

he talian howcase


Viscountess Ysabella Dolfin
Rachael Zavala)

Kingdom of the West, Shire of Teufelberg
(Pleasant Hill, California, USA)

Costumer and SCA Member

A Venetian Outfit in the Style
 of 1590-1600

(Highlighted/bordered images are click-able for enlarging)

Ysabella Says....


My name is Rachael Zavala, also known in the SCA as Viscountess Ysabella Dolfin of the West Kingdom. I have been making my own garb for about four years. My persona is 1525-ish  Italian but when a good friend did a later period party (and fund- raiser for breast cancer) I decided to make a later period Italian gown. 

I knew the general consensus is that the courtesans did not really walk around town with their drawers showing but I loved the look of the flip books with the skirts open and decided I would make my gown look like that and add a more respectable, and document-able, false skirt front (to be added at a later date). The pictures below are examples of dresses I was trying to emulate. 

newvecellio9.jpg (313847 bytes)
(From )


The Bodice and Skirt

Originally I was going to make the skirt detachable with points, like a man’s doublet. But my friends said it was just way too 'Dangerous Beauty' and not nearly enough what a real Venetian courtesan would have worn. I found the fabric at discount fabrics in Berkeley. It is a cotton blend brocade. This was my first attempt at boning a bodice myself.  With the skirt I did not have as much fabric as I would have liked and ended up piecing it together.

The Partlet

With the partlet I used a green silk and sewed on real pearls all by hand. I went to Lacis in Berkeley and got some antique lace for $10. I starched it to death and ironed it out and let it dry completely. This did not make it stiff enough. (In the more recent Italian I made for a friend I used a flour water mixture and that worked much better!) 

I used white millinery wire to make a frame and sewed the stiffened lace onto the frame. The tricky part of the frame is to make two loops that go down your back a bit, this will keep it from flopping over.


The sleeves were a lot of fun too! Because I did not have a ton of the brocade I selected another fabric for my sleeves. I starched lace for the sleeves and covered the eyelet holes with gold silk floss.

The Drawers

I really wanted to make a copy of the extant drawers with ' Voglio Ilcore' on them, but that would have been a LOT of embroidery! So I did a leg band with a snippet of the counted embroidery on it. In this picture  you can see a bit of the embroidery on my leg in this photo. I know they are too short, I used a man’s pattern and cut them down way too much. I did hand eyelets covered with silk floss and the ties are brown satin ribbon.


The chopines were a blast to make! The first picture shows the materials, and the second one the finished product. I used brocade with decorative furniture tacks and yellow and red leather. The cork for the shoes… it’s yoga cork! The third picture is some inspiration.


  The girdle is made from real jet, pearls, garnets and silver beads. These were strung on sturdy non period materials. 

I also decided to do the Diana moon hairdo/devil horns when I wore the gown to our October Crown this year. I used one false braid and my own hair. The necklace is real pearls and garnets and was made for me by my friend Viscountess Kiriana Michelson.



  You can contact Viscountess Ysabella at Rachimov02 (at) .

Would you like to be Showcased? E-mail me!


(© 2001 - 2008 Anabella Wake (Known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona) I hold copyright on all information on these pages, and on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.