Salamandre renaissance-inspired gown

Flashback to 2007. An invitation late on a Wednesday night to a renaissance fair that following Saturday resulted in some turbo-sewing and lots of sweat and worry over ruining any of that brocade!

This gown was made in a fantasy-renaissance style with a reversible front panel and reversible sleeves using black silk velvet and a silk brocade in a pattern available at the time only from Scalamandre. This not-trademarked pattern has since been made available by other companies, which is fortunate as fabric from Scalamandre easily runs hundreds of dollars. The ten yards of this fabric used retailed for a staggering $280 per yard at the time (thank goodness I had a day-job in the pre-recession tech industry). Another ten yards of the velvet was used, seven in the overskirt alone.

The skirt is two separate pieces. The underskirt of brocade is pleated to a waistband at the front and closes in the back with a ribbon tie in a casing that gathers the fabric in the back. The overskirt is densely pleated to another waistband and ties in the front. This construction enables the skirt to be worn by a lady with a waist measurement between 26″ and 42″.

The bodice’s front panel is reversible. One side is velvet and the other is brocade. It has a thick busk and the bodice is fully boned. Reversible sleeves (see a trend?) tie at the shoulders with three black ribbons. Each point on the sleeves and bodice bottom have beaded tassels.

The “hood” is an entirely, 100% period-incorrect-in- every-way piece plucked from an overactive imagination. I constructed a base from buckram in a style I’ve never actually seen in paintings and covered it with silk velvet, and lined it with black silk charmeuse. I made a drape with five points of black silk chiffon, a fabric not invented until hundreds of years after the renaissance ended, and made the same tassel at each point as the sleeves and bodice. The “hood” itself features several hundred more black beads.

Another shoot will be done soon with a better camera.  These photos are nearly a decade old.

More old-fashioned digital photos are in this Facebook album.

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