I’ve decided to take on the challenge of building a full ensemble based on those found in Flemish tapestries around 1500-1520. My mentor carefully suggested that the best way to do this was to build an initial outfit to test fitting ideas, and some decoration theories, and then work up to a full, amazing decorated ensemble a year after that. Lochac’s midwinter coronation was happening a 2 hour drive from our house, so I set that as the deadline for stage 1 of the challenge: an outstanding court dress based on the transition style for the event.
I wanted to explore some of the styles seen in tapestries of the era, as well as try out layering theories that I think are evident from some portraits. This was one of my inspiration images, although the neckline is a bit lower that the style of 10 years previously:
In order to achieve this I needed to build a decorated coif and an under dress with a black satin neckline with applied gold bezants.
In the end this is what I produced for the event.
Some of you may recognise the outer layer. It’s the “curtain frock” from 2003. What’s new is the black layer underneath, the hood and the chains. For me, this is the curtain dress all grown up, and looking like it’s stepped out of a painting. The hood is my Transition era hood in two hours, variant II, which I continued to refine – this time it is pinned to the red silk coif, not a white cap. Maybe that makes it variant III?
I made two new items for this event:
- a black under-gown (the black on black on black gown – since everything needs a name)
- a red silk coif
Both of which were my outfit during the day, and both of which I am very happy with.
Blinging it up
Initially I wanted to build 2 gowns for this event, to be worn as an ensemble, based on my theory that this style is comprised of two visible layers, An outer, and undergown with a visible decorated neckline. However the outer gown didn’t happen due to other commitments, and my goal to build one good frock rather than two average ones. The week before the event I realised that I the green wool Gaudete gown might work over the top. A quick check showed that it would be OK and so it was sent off to be dry-cleaned.
The day before the event I remembered the Curtain Dress, and realised it might also work. And my, did it work! I had one of those moments where you put on a dress and realise you’ve achieved the look of primary source that you’ve used as the basis of the work you’ve been doing.
Combined with the french hood variant, and some chains, that I’ve developed it looked perfect. Here’s an image taken at the feast:
It’s was also lovely to have finally nailed that early 1500s style the night that I was called up in court to receive the Lochac Order of the Star and Lilies, an award for Arts and Sciences in Lochac, for my work in costuming this style.