I’ve held off on trimming the Ninon gown for literally years, because I loved it so much untrimmed, and have been afraid I wouldn’t like it as much trimmed.
But I’ve finally sucked it up and done it, and (luckily!) I love it even more with trimming!
For trimming inspiration I wavered between the Beaubrun portrait that had been my primary inspiration throughout the making of the dress:
And the van der Helst portrait of a couple, which appealed to me because of the simplicity of the trimmings (I know that a gazillion bows going up the front of your bodice doesn’t seem simple, but it’s really such a basic trim):
At first I leaned toward the ribbon for simplicity. I’ve got some rather nice quality viscose ribbon that is a good match for the ribbons on van der Helst’s woman in colour, width and texture. I made a bunch of bows from them and pinned them up the front, and while they looked lovely, the were a little too obvious.
So I had a serious rummage in the trim stash to see if I could find anything that evoked the look of Élisabeth’s dress. Her trim seems to be mostly jewels (because hey, if you are the richest woman in France, you might as well flaunt it), but I could use it as a guidelines to overall aesthetic. I’d purchased some modern gold metal lace that was specifically intended for this gown a while back, but the bright gold clashed with the yellow, and the lace was just too coarse for the quality of the silk. Sigh. Modern workmanship…
And then I found this passementerie:
This trim mostly came off of a large doily/table cloth type thing from the 1970s. It had a red velveteen back and a brocade front, and the trim sewn round the edges. I’ve seen similar smaller doilies in the exact same materials at op shops over the years, so it must have been a ‘thing’. I haven’t picked up the smaller ones because the price didn’t match the amount of trim I’d get off of them (and at the time I wasn’t buying it for a purpose), and unpicking the trim was a headache and a half. In retrospect, I wish I had!
Look how beautiful the trim looks turned and sewn back up down the front? I had almost EXACTLY enough to trim the dress down the front and around the neckline, with less than 3″ of trim left over.
I really like the way the trim provides quite a strong contrast to the yellow, while still being quite subtle.
To glitz it up a bit more, and to further evoke the jewels of Élisabeth’s gown, and because I love pearls and basically think you can never have too many, I sewed faux pearls around the neckline:
The pearls are courtesy of the ever wonderful Lynne, who gave me a whole jewellery box full of them. I may go back and sew more between each pearl around the neckline, and maybe some down the front as well…
For the sleeves, I got creative.
The yellow ribbon is a nice viscose grosgrain, and the gold lace trim is (believe it or not) the selvedges from some scraps of reasonable quality gold-lace fabric that I picked up in a bulk bag of fabric from an op-shop, and kept, just in case they could be useful.
Inspired by Élisabeth’s sleeve’s, I formed the ribbons and lace into loops, and sewed them on to a length of ribbon, which I then sewed around the sleeve cuffs. I love how they just peek out from the fullness of the sleeve.
I was afraid they would be very overpowering, but actually, they are quite subtle. In retrospect I wish I’d included blue ribbons too, just like Élisabeth’s, so they are a little less subtle. Someday I may unpick and re-do.
I’m also on the lookout for more of the passementerie trim, so that I can sew the curved seams of the bodice front (though they aren’t entirely necessary, as there are plenty of examples without them.
But for now, a fully trimmed Ninon!
And, just in case anyone is wondering, the mask is a simple full-face paper mask, cut down to follow the simple curved shapes of the masks seen in 17th & 18th c masquerade portraits (though theirs had a lot less face shaping), and painted a dark purple-black, which I was delighted to discover is Resene ‘Bastille.’ How appropriate!