Cranach Gown Part 2: Skirt Construction Part 1

October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve started this project with the skirt, since with the techniques I’m using, it can be constructed entirely separately from the bodice, and then be attached, and because it’s less technically challenging than correctly fitting the bodice, although it’s more time-consuming, since it requires a great deal of fabric, and I’m sewing everything by hand.

One of the first things I noticed when I started closely examining images of Saxon gowns was this: Cranach doesn’t paint any indication of seams.  Like, ever.  Obviously since there weren’t stretch knits in 16th century Saxony, these dresses had seams of some kind, but what kind, and where they were placed, can’t be known for certain since there are no extant Cranach Gowns to examine.  Its construction must therefore be construed by analogy with how other garments at the time were made.


The clear presence of seams in a Hans Holbein painting.


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Cranach Gown Part 1: Reserch

September 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ah, the irresistible mystique of the Cranach Gown.  Just what is it about this early 16th century Saxon fashion, which gained its modern epithet by virtue of being portrayed in countless paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), that has so captured the imagination of the costuming world?  Is it the rich, vibrant colors?  Is it the garish, pimp-esque accessorizing?  Is it the piquant expressions on the faces of invariably young, rosy-cheeked strawberry blonds sporting these garments that, along with their whimsical styling, can’t help but make the viewer believe just  for a moment, despite all modern biases, that it was good to be alive (and rich) in 1530’s Saxony?

Whatever it is, its safe to say that I was totally unaware of ANY of it until this September.  I had never heard of Lucas Cranach the Elder or his infamous Gown until I ran across an image of it while searching for something else northern Renaissancey, what I don’t even recall.  And like so many others before me, I fell, and fell hard. The irresistible charm of this outlandish fashion was at work on me.  What followed were several weeks of near-obsessive searching for reference images of all its manifold permutations.  I was determined to “catch them all.

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