To make a a 1660s gown for the celebrated 17th c French beauty, arts patron, and sometimes nun, sometimes courtesan, Ninon de l’Enclos. And it had to be out of golden yellow duchesse silk satin.
As there are no images of Ninon that were made in her own life, my design is based on a 1670s portrait of Élisabeth d’Orléans, with further inspiration from Bartholomeus van der Helst’s 1660-61 portrait of a couple, the 1660’s Bath dress, and a 1660’s bodice (in yellow duchess satin!) from a German collection.
In order to really experience the work of a 17th century seamstress, the ensemble is entirely handsewn except for the boning channels on the bodice support (sorry, done that once, never doing it again). As much as possible I have researched and used 17th century stitches and garment construction.
|Élisabeth d’Orléans, Beaubrun, 1670||Couple, 1660-61, van der Helst||Bodice, probably German, 1660s|
|Dress, 1660s, Museum of Fashion||Mary, 1652, van der Helst||Fredrick & Louise, van Honhurst, 1650|
Fabric and Materials:
- Custom dyed yellow duchesse silk satin over a bodice of unbleached linen boned in cable ties.
- Skirt of custom dyed yellow duchesse silk satin
- Cotton & silk thread to sew
- A 17th c shift, quilted petticoats, and possibly a bumroll
The Dress Diary:
- Introducing the idea: A dress for Ninon
- Dyeing the fabric: Angels sing
- The skirt
- Drafting & fitting the bodice pattern
- The boning layout
- Re-doing the bodice point
- Covering the bodice
- The back fastenings
- A 17th c shift
- A quilted petticoat
- A try on: be in love
- The bodice lining & eyelets
- Binding the tabs
- The sleeves
- Accessories for the dress
- A sneak-peak in the dressing room at the Grandeur & Frivolity talk
- Another sneak-peak
- The finished dress at Grandeur & Frivolity
- Baroque & Rococo out-takes I
- Baroque & Rococo out-takes II
- The finished dress at Premier House
- The finished dress at Premier House II
- Pretty princesses in yellow
- Walk with me at the old Dominion Museum
- Balconies, Staircases & Ballrooms photoshoot
- Let there be Light photoshoot
- Ninon at a talk at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea
- The fully trimmed Ninon gown
Research and helpful links:
- Detailed images of the construction of the Bath dress
- Research on 17th century fashion (including a pattern for the 1660s yellow bodice, above). (in German)
- Kendra of Demode’s Dress Diary for her 1668 Nell Gwynn gown
- How to make a 17th c petticoat on Marquise.de
- Research on, and images of, as well as a pattern for 17th c shifts at Isis’ Wardrobe
- North, Susan and Jenny Tiramani (ed.) Seventeenth-century Women’s Dress Patterns, London: V & A Publishing. 2010.
- Hart, Averil and North, Susan. 17th and 18th Century Fashion in Detail, London: V & A Publishing. 2009.
- Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women, 1660-1860.
- Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 4: The Cut and Construction of Linen Shirts, Smocks, Neckwear, Headwear and Accessories for Men and Women C. 1540-1660
- Hunnisett, Jean. Period costume for stage & screen. Patterns for women’s dress, 1500-1800
- Riberio, Aileen. Fashion and fiction: dress in art and literature in Stuart England.
- Waugh, Norah. Corsets and Crinolines (pages 32-36), New York: Routledge/Theatre Arts Books. 2004