Friday, August 19, 2016

Planning a German Renaissance Gown (in the style of the Saxon Court)

With the vague deadline of 'sometime in mid-late September', I have four different outfits to make for a trip to the ren faire with my sister, four-year-old niece, and two-year-old nephew. My sister and nephew will be dressed as Vikings, my niece is getting a fabulous pink/lavender/maroon dress made with a number of theatrical sacrifices to accommodate a wildly active and dirt loving princess, and I am making myself a German frock from the beginning of the 16th century.

After putting together a pinterest board containing research images that I liked, I realized I kept being drawn to styles from Saxony during the period roughly spanning 1510-1535. While this style of dress is often referred to across the internet as a Cranach dress (due to an artist of the time called Lucas Cranach who painted about a million paintings of people wearing this type of frock) I prefer to avoid that particular terminology. After all, someone in Saxony in 1520 wouldn't say, 'Oh, I'm having a new Cranach dress made', they'd just say 'I'm getting a new dress, bitches!' Or something along those lines.

Anyway, here's my rough sketch of what I want my own dress to be.

Because I'm going to be wearing this dress at Ren Faire, I want to keep things as cool and comfortable as possible. America is so stupidly hot, you guys! I'd somehow forgotten what sun + humidity feels like and I am NOT a fan. This means that even though a lot of the original gowns in paintings look to be velvet or wool, I'm simply not doing that. The main fabric of my dress will be linen with a silk petticoat underneath. My linen arrived in the post yesterday and I promptly washed and ironed it, so things are ready to go! I've already started on the golden cap, or Goldhaube, worn under the be-feathered hat and will do a write-up on my cap and that process quite soon.

Colors for this type of Saxon dress seemed to fall within a fairly restricted spectrum, with dark green, dark red, and black all contrasted by golden brocade bands being the most common. You do see occasional dresses made entirely of brocade, or another color such as a royal-ish blue, pink, or rust, but those are decidedly less common. In a move that probably surprises no one, I went with black.

Below are the reference images which have most heavily shaped my choices for this dress and which I found the most inspiring. Unless the internet is lying to me, they are all by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Johannisburg Palace, St. Ursula, school of Lucas Cranach the Elder

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