Julie's Venetian Courtesan

Who doesn't want to be a Dangerous Beauty?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Design Concepts

Okay, so we know I’m making a courtesan dress. We know I’ve already started the camica. But what of the dress? What will it look like? What is this red cotton velveteen I’ve spoken of? Here we go:

Courtesan in Venice.
I’m thinking red. Okay, I’m "slightly" biased by the costumes in Dangerous Beauty, but they do wear an awful lot of red and I like it. The DB character also has an orange dress I love, but the orange in my local fabric stores are limited, and I can’t bear to buy fabric sight unseen from online. Besides, one of my courtesan-to-be accomplices is doing an amber/orangey dress. So I’ll stick to red. Anyway, based on Oonagh's Own website, red was a pretty dominant color. Sounds good.

Flashback to months ago. I visit the fabric store. I buy a red brocade-y cotton/poly fabric. $25 for 6-7 yards. Not too bad. In the store it looks red with purple-y red details. I’m excited. I can do all my accents in some deep purple reds. Sounds regal. Nope—at home the purple is lost. This is my first clash with in-store-lighting. Oh, then I find on Oonagh's site that there’s not evidence of purple being used in Venice during that period. So perhaps the evil store lighting saved me from myself…. End flashback. I have a costuming hiatus to decide if I like this fabric or not. Maybe I’ll use it for curtains if I don’t use it for a dress….

On to the recent past (a few days ago):
I find info online for a local fabric store “selling way below cost” “too low to put online”. I go. OH MY GOD! Delicious fabrics. Scrumptious. Exactly what I’d like to have as a courtesan. I get some swatches (the store was closing when I got there) to think about it. My choices range from $25/yd-$40/yd.

LUSH SWATCHES Posted by Hello
I love them. (mental note to make a dress with that blue and gold...someday). I think if I do the diamond burgundy fabric as an accent and a cheaper fabric for the rest I can afford it. That night I go back to the local fabric store and find THE red cotton velveteen. It matches my diamond swatch almost perfectly. I get 6 yards of the red velvet. I take it home. I pull it out to admire it. STUPID STORE LIGHTING! Sigh…velvet no longer matches my pretty little diamond swatch.
Another accomplice counsels me on my non-matching fabric dilemma. Okay, so my red velvet doesn’t match the diamonds. But I haven’t bought the diamonds. And they’re expensive. So, the velvet (and yes, the evil in-store-lighting) saves me from the insanity of dropping possibly hundreds on fancy fabric that is best reserved for when I’m a more accomplished seamstress. I admit defeat. And yet, I’m very excited about the red velvet potential…

I put the red velvet on top of the red brocade from several months back. The “red” brocade now looks deliciously mauve, and wonderful next the velvet. I think we have a winning combination…

My *final* fabric selection. The bottom is the red cotton/poly brocade. The middle is the red cotton velveteen, and the top is my fru fru pink acetate taffeta. Isn't is a sexy combo?

The pink is something I picked up at the local store for $1/yd. It’s pink taffeta (acetate, not silk). Totally not a “me” purchase. But courtesan demons in my head started talking about how cute it’d be to line the skirt in pink taffeta. I’ll get a rustle and a flirty pink flash whenever I lift my skirts…. Oh, the rapture.

This is my concept sketch thus far:

concept design Posted by Hello

I decided not to do front ladder lacing, despite what most of the portraiture of the time tells me. Why you ask? Because I’m obstinate. And because I think my two accomplices are both doing ladder lacing, and I like variety. Probably I’ll end up with side back lacing, since I’ve seen that in an Arnold sketch of the burial gown of Eleanora of Toledo (c. 1562 ).

The trim in my colored sketch is not necessarily my final choice, but its good in the drawing for now…

I’m not sure which sleeve style on the concept sketch I like best. I’ve seen ones sorta like the one on the left. But basically, that one is from Dangerous Beauty, and I think not period accurate. But it is awful cute. We’ll see. I have a few other sleeve ideas I might sketch out before making my final decision…As the sleeves are removable I won't feel so bad if I don't go completely historically accurate on them. I can always add an accurate sleeve later on....


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