This lavish orange silk gown was created as a masquerade costume for a themed ball. It was commissioned as an individual ‘one off ‘ design inspired by 16th Century costumes.
The James Hare orange silk I have chosen for this gown looks very bright in these photographs – it does not photograph well. The Elizabethans certainly did not have fabric in such bright colours. In reality the fabric is a more subtle pretty shade of pink/orange. Nevertheless I am sure you’ll agree this stunning gown will certainly get you noticed at any stylish costume event!
The inspiration for this dress were gowns worn in the television series ‘The Tudors’ starring Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn. Although in my opinion some of the costumes in the series were not historically correct they were nevertheless glamorous, stunning, beautiful to look at.
The gown has a bodice cut in the tight fitting back lacing ‘Tudor’ shape of the period. It has a bell shaped orange silk skirt hand pleated to the bodice of the dress. Under the silk skirt a farthingale and underskirt are worn.
The front edges of the skirt and hem are trimmed with gold lace and a hem guard. This was a piece of matching fabric a few inches wide which was sewn to the dress. It could be removed when the hem got dirty and be washed or replaced as it was almost impossible to clean such ornate and delicate dresses.
The tabs attached to the waistline of this gown have been cut out of lined orange silk and decorated with gold beads, gold cabochons, firefly jewels and gold lace. Decorative skirting or tabs were very popular during this period.
The sleeves are tight fitting with slashes at the top to reveal ‘puffs’ of contrasting fabric. A large cap of contrasting fabric is cut to make the upper sleeve. Strips are made from silk lined and trimmed with gold beads and gold lace. The strips are stitched to the cap of contrasting fabric and then the edges are gathered to fit a sleeve stay or base. A tight fitting lower sleeve is cut of silk and lining fabric and trimmed with double gold lace and gold cord.
During this period however sleeves could also be a completely separate item which tied onto the bodice by laces and eyelets. Sleeves were very expensive and were often given as presents. They would have been worn with different gowns for different occasions. In most modern clothes the position of the sleeve seam is under the arm for movement. In Tudor clothes it was usually placed on the top or at the back of the sleeve. It was sometimes left open or caught by jewels at intervals so the chemise would show through.
Shoulder rolls have been added to the top of the sleeve. They are made from two pieces of calico cut in a crescent shape, sewn together then stuffed with filling such as kapok. They have been covered with silk to match the dress and have lavish embellishments of gold beaded braid trim, gold jewelled trim. The shoulder rolls have been attached to the top of the sleeves at the seam. They were very popular in the 16th Century and can be seen in many portraits.
A gold Renaissance motif created in gold thread and tiny gold spangles is sewn to the front of the bodice to add interest, glitter and sparkle.
A necklace and jewelled girdle set with ‘fire opal’ jewels are worn. A large sparkling is attached to the end of the chain to complete the beautiful matching jewellery.
All Elizabethan ladies carried a fan and this lady is no exception. Her lavish fan has been made from a gilded base embellished with gold plated jewels with feathers in shades of orange, gold and green. A gold jewelled cord with gold hook is attached for carrying.
This stunning jewelled, ornate and sumptuous ‘Firefly’ silk gown is sure to be noticed at any Masquerade ball.