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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Costumes: Researching 16th Century Spanish Fashion

This year, I am planning on wearing two costumes to the Michigan Renaissance Festival: a black velvet Spanish style doublet gown and a black velvet Tudor style gown with over partlet and folded back sleeves. Two very different styles, both proving to be challenging for a number of reasons.

Once again, I'll emphasize the fact that I do not aspire to recreate garb using period methods or techniques. You won't see much handwork. I don't have the time or the patience. I even fiddle with cut and style a bit to appeal to my taste and fit my body--I have unique fitting challenges that make it difficult to achieve the typical Renaissance conical shape. So if you are looking for a resource for researching period methods, you've stumbled upon the wrong blog :) But if you're looking for inspiration, a little insight into fitting unusual body shapes, and overcoming challenges such as working with impossibly thin fabrics, and creating lush noble garb on a tight budget, you are in the right place.

Now, back to my research. In the case of the Spanish style gown, it was a challenge finding resources on the internet. It seems recreating Elizabethan English style gowns is most common. Which, of course, is part of the reason why I wanted to tackle a Spanish inspired costume. Another reason: Spanish style appears to incorporate more black, and the overall look is less busy, and with my sense of taste, I find the look chic. And finally, the doublet style gown fits me better and is more flattering.

Online Resources.
The bulk of my research was done on two websites:

Saya Espanola

This image of Isabella deValois is the main inspiration for my gown
(Sofonisba Anguissola, Portrait of Queen Isabel de Valois, 1563-65):
Close ups of sleeve and girdle detail

Some additional portraits
(Isabella de Valois--Sofonisba Anguissola, 1565 Click to view high res copy)
(Artist: Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, date unknown)

(Catalina Micaela, daughter of Carlos and Isabella. Click for High Res image)
(Isabel Clara Eugenia, daughter of Carlos and Isabella. Click for High Res image)

What I've come up with is a concept that resembles Isabella de Valois gown but doesn't replicate it. I'll be making a red silk kirtle with embroidered sleeves to give the look of Isabella's undersleeves, a high-collared black doublet with tone-on-tone embroidery to dress it up a smidge, a white high-collared cotton partlet, embroidered with gold, and featuring two rows of pleated ruffles (I am going to skip the neck ruff), and a black velvet skirt, again with coordinating tone-on-tone embroidery. I'll post pix of each piece as I complete them, beginning with the partlet, which I have already completed.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, comments, links to additional research resources or suggestions for future blog posts, please comment. I welcome your feedback!


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posted by Tawny Taylor at 9:02 AM |


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