A Diary of a Dress Inspired by a Portrait of Laudomia de' Medici
let me show you a black and white image so you can see the details.
Even then, there are some things that aren't visible. This might
be a high necked doublet. That's what I'll be making anyway, and
it will be hooked in front. I'll show similar styles later on
that are all closed in front. The waist has looped tabs. What
can't be seen is that there are also tiny looped tabs on the armband
of the shoulder panes. The edges of the waist and shoulder tabs,
shoulder panes, overskirt and sleeves are all piped in white.
The exact way the sleeves are built is hard to see, but I'll be
making them the same way as http://lynnmcmasters.com/ladyselizcourtsleeve.html.
The four-pearl ornaments have a tiny red bead in the middle,
and they're on the shoulder panes, on the sleeves, and on either
side of the opening of the overskirt.
The dress will be made of a nice silk habotai in 10mm, instead
of what looks like velvet on the portrait. I'll try to find a
nice brocade, maybe even velvet, for the forepart. My local fabric
store has something in the drapery section that will be suitable
if I can't find anything better. I'm just hoping I'll fall in
love with a piece of fabric, instead of having to buy the only
suitable I could find.
I'll be making a low necked smock and partlet, for practicality.
It will be easier to mix and match between outfits if I have a
separate partlet than if I have to make a whole new smock. The
wrist ruffles really look like tiny ruffs, so I think I'll be
able to make them separate as well, but there is also the possibility
of sewing them to the smock sleeves.
Now, I couldn't go only on two bad reproductions of one portrait.
I found some nice similar dresses here: http://homepage.mac.com/festive_attyre/research/diary2002/page1.html.
Most of them are later than Laudomia's gown, but I found many
of them to be constructed very similarly. The main differences
seem to be that the doublet is worn closed in later years, and
that there is a one-piece overdress, while Laudomia's doublet
was open and had a separate skirt.
is one picture I looked at in particular. This is a portrait of
an unknown lady by a follower of Tiziano. Yes, I grabbed it from
I hope I will be forgiven since it's only for personal use.
The construction is very similar, down to the ruffles, the pearl
necklace and the hat. The wrist ruffles are more like just a ruffle,
as opposed to the mini-ruff look on the Laudomia gown. It also
has the striped sleeves that, I believe, are very popular a little
later in period. It's visibly very close to Laudomia's gown, both
in time and place, and I find it extremely reassuring to be able
to scrutinize a higher resolution reproduction of a portrait.
It puzzles me somewhat that Laudomia is the only painting I can
see in my collection that has matching sleeves. I'll take this
painting as proof that some of those gowns were hooked in front,
since it's impossible to see the closure of Laudomia's gown.
as for the stole, I have two images. This one, a detail from the
portrait of Angelica Agliardi de Nicolinis, by Giovanni Battista
I found this picture, a portrait of Portrait of a Noblewoman
Lavinia Fontanai, 1580. This one has a jeweled head and is tied
to her waist just like Laudomia's stole.
also have a detail of a painting, but I have no idea what painting
it came from, since I found it on http://homepage.mac.com/festive_attyre/research/diary2002/page1.html.
You can see the jeweled head in great detail. I have no idea if
I'll have the patience to make something like that one day. I'd
make it out of polymer clay or something similar. But it's not
I'm still wondering how those stoles were worn when they were
not holding them in their arms. Lavinia's stole almost looks like
it's tied in the back so it hangs at her side. Will have to do
April 10, 2002
Great news! I went to the library today and managed to find a
book with a reproduction of Laudomia's portrait! It's black and
white, it's small, and it's a detail of the left arm and bodice,
but it's much better than anything I've seen so far! It's in Florence,
The Golden Age 1138-1737, Gene Adam Bruckner. Abbeville Press
Publishers New York, 1984, p. 42. (Scan follows)
On this image, you can see three things I hadn't noticed before.
First, it's not continuous piping that's on the edges of the gown,
it's some kind of mini-tabs. I'll probably make piping anyway,
but this detail is very intriguing. Also, there are looped tabs
on the paned sleeve cap not only below the armband, but also above
the panes and between the panes and the armband. And finally,
there are four-pearl jewels on the neckline of her gown. I'm almost
suprised they don't go down the front on either side of the front
closure (unless there is no front closure at all).
March 22, 2004
finally took the book home to scan it. Here's the scan of the
image, if you click on it you'll have the HUGE high-resolution
image. It's much, much better than the photocopies I had originally
October 21, 2006
got this image from... somewhere! It's been circulating on the Internet.
I think it's a scan from Moda a Firenze. In that book, apparently,
our Laudomia is identified as being Isabella de' Medici!