Mary of Hungary's "wedding dress"
These images were kindly sent to me by Lisa who lives in Scotland. I live in New Zealand, so she went out of her way to give me these images to share with you.
Due to low light conditions, many of the images had various degrees of motion blur. I used photoshop 7 to sharpen and despeckle the images before resizing. Some information of course has been lost, so if anyone has a better method for correcting motion blur please let me know and I and the garbing community at large will be extremely grateful.
Front of gown:
Note how the dress differs from the familiar official image in regards to the belt, the mannequin, and how very obviously the gown has had extensive restoration. This is especially noticeable in the sleeves, there are patches of a nicely matching but slightly more olive coloured plain weave fabric.
With the new mannequin that has arms, the dress begins to take better form, and we have a better understanding of how it looked when worn. The sleeves look more wieldy, and have a deep fold at the elbow. This will help shorten the sleeves for access to the hands, and the folds look to perhaps hold their place due to stiffness of the fabric and sleeve lining.
The skirt folds are of course classic folds of a circle skirt, comparing the front to the back, it appears the waist may have been slightly larger than Mary's waist, and the extra fullness eased to the back. As the front lies rather smooth for a circle skirt, while the back has heavier folds. The mannequin may also have a small waist than the last, or the belt draws the skirt fabric in towards the middle of the waist. The folds are concentrated at the centre of the waist which is different to the official photo.
The "blouse" photo also shows a detail that isnot so obvious in the official photo; the smocking/embroidery does not continue to the gusset in the underam. This makes sense, and is probably obvious to those who have done smocking, but it's nice to see just how much of a gap in the pattern around the neckline there is at each side front.
The cuffs really show the direction of the brocade very well, as there are heavy lines following the grain of the fabric. This bears out the pattern theory in Namoi Tarrant's book Development of costume. Though there are elements that are not. The skirt is definitely cut with a train and the sleeves are not cut from several sections.
Side of the gown:
The side of the gown clearly shows the train, bearing out the cutting diagram that the museum has published (even if the origin of the diagram may have a few possibilities.)
The close up of the side of the gown also shows how the hem of the gown is bordered with a thin darker green fabric. This is surely to protect the silk brocade from damage when the skirt was worn.
The side also shows again the possibility that the waist was cut larger than Mary's actual waist, with the extra eased to the back. The pleats hang fairly vertical but there are more pleats at the back than the front.
Back of the gown:
We can see how extremely deep the pleats of the skirt at the back are in these photos. By pleats, these are incidental pleats of a circular skirt, not fabric folded at the waistline. The top of the skirt we know to be lined with wool to help the pleat/folds of the skirt to stand out.
We can also see the trim of the neckline (the guards) is slightly deeper at the centre back of than on the sides.
There are also vertical puckers at the waist, which bears out my theory that the belt is pulled a little tighter than might have ben worn.
Another extremely interesting aspect is the arm seam. Lisa told me that the arm seams does not do up the back of the arm, but lie closer to the under arm. This is closer to the cutting diagram, but not quite exactly.
Despite the motion blur, the half length photo of the back of the dress shows a seam that is very nearly directly under the arm. It's not quite directly under the arm, but also not up the back of the arm. There may be some twisting of the sleeve, but you can see a vertical line on the close up howing more of the inside of the left sleeve than the one showing more of the outside of the right sleeve.
We are not sure why the belt was changed, or what the new belt is based on. It certainly is too new and fresh to be an riginal, but may be based on an original.
More information about this dress:
Cynthia Virtue had the first site with images of this dress (if I'm wrong please let me know via my contact page) which has been the inspiration for a number of people who have been interested in costume.
Take a further look around as there are some other interesting extant garments.
Recreations based on this dress:
Willemyne Buijs (editor of the Frazzled Frau website):
Yellow and black version, both gown and "blouse" recreated, with a pair of bodies and a black velvet brustflack to wear the gown as a German gown.
Despina de la Brasov:
Blue and green brocade with gold based metallic trim. Maroon piece covering the open centre front
If you have a recreation based on this gown, please let me know via my contact page.
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