A Step Through Time

"Conspicuous Consumption with Elegance"

Reconstructing History

Venetian Noble Women's Dress

Late Sixteenth Century


1560 Veronese

Giustiniana Barbaro on the balconey, Fresco, Villa Barbaro, Masser, Vience 1559 - 61 Venetian Noble Gown detail front view


Venetian Noble Gown with train Venetian Noble Gown with train rear view


Some poetic licence has been taken in the remaking f this gown.  The fresco that inspired its creation does not show the hem line or the back detail.  To add to the decadence of this gown a train was included in the skirt design.  There are other examples of Venetian women at home with trained gowns.  The V shape of the back waist line is also a signature of the Venetian dress of the time.

Front lacing fastens this gown, as seen in the portrait.  Under the lacing of the dress the carmica is visible.  Over her shoulders the sitter wears a partlet fashioned in a lattice pattern.  The intersections on the partlet have pearls sew into them, the portrait displays a simular use of bead work.

The sleeves tops are of a lantern style, that is they are 'slashed' for an interesting effect showing the carmica worn underneath.  At the wrist the carmica is seen showing through.  One reason for the carmica being seen at the edges of the gown is to protect the gown from any body grease spoiling the fabric.  Thus only the undergarments would be washed regularly.

In the recreation of this portrait gown the same features of the sleeves, waist, front lacing and partlet can be seen.  The fullness of the skirt at the waist can also be identified.  The method of gathering the 10 metres of skirt into the waist is called ‘cartridge pleating’ and is done by hand.  This is a simular method to the pencil pleating used for curtains today.

The torso is flattened out showing no curvature under the bust line as we would expect to see today.  This is because one of the foundation garments for this style of dress was a corset.  As well as a corset an under skirt and carmica would also have been worn.  This was like wearing two sets of clothes. 

A synthetic brocade has been chosen for the recreation as a suitable substitute for the silk brocades available at the time.   A girdle of blue glass beads and pearls finishes off the look of this gown.

This gown was made and is worn by Deborah Lane of Canberra.


Venetian patrician gown made by Deborah Lane


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All intellectual content, composition, layout, designs and photographs, unless otherwise noted are copyright 2007 to Deborah Lane ©, or, copyright 2003 to Deborah Murray © also known as Mistress Oonagh O'Neill ©. All Original renaissance art works and artefacts are not copyright to Deborah Murray, and are shown for educational use only .  If you see something you'd really like to use, please contact me!