Tarja Turunen as Anne Boleyn

Historical costumes has always been one of my biggest obsessions, but as a young designer that just graduated from school, it felt like it was way out of my league. And yet here I am, proud of two historical inspired dresses.

The first one I want to talk about is my interpretation of an early 16th century gown that has been worn by metal singer Tarja Turunen. She has the perfect look to represent Anne Boleyn from England.

Typical for dresses by that period, were the almost square neckline but slightly curved, narrow sleeves and in the winter covered with huge fur cuffs. Of course there were several layers, but since it was for a photo project, I decided to only make two skirts.

The dress is customized on Tarja's measurements, which means it's made for her body. I drew the pattern from scratch using the Roose patterndraftig method. I played with the shape of the neckline based on pictures and paintings from that period to make it look as accurate as possible. I used a minimum of seams since that was very common for these kind of dresses.

For the underskirt I just drew the front panel in a triangle shape and kept it flat on the tummy. The rest of the skirt are rectangles that were gathered together in the waist to create volume. Same for the overskirt minus the front panel.

I drew the sleeves very narrow as this was the style back then. But the faux fur sleeves asked some sketching and experimenting until I found the perfect shape.

The underskirt has one front panel made in some kind of gold velvet with a damasque print as this will be visible, while the invisible panels are in unbleached cotton.

For the overskirt and bodice we found this beautiful silk velvet in a dark royal blue. It had to be the right blue and that rich shininess that you would expect of velvet royal dresses. I ordered many samples, but there was only one shop in Brussels, Max Bloch, that had the right fabric.

Working with velvet is not that easy, however I got used to it since I made an entire collection with it for school.

I had to strengthen the fabric, so I used a modern solution for that with using fusible interfacing. That’s a layer you iron on the back of your fabric. It exists in many thickness and stiffness, so I used a very stiff one since I wasn’t planning on using bonings. Again this was for a photoshoot.

I lined the bodice with a heavy coutil, the same fabric I use in corsets.

On the sleeves I added little cuffs in the same fabric as the front of the underskirt and I finished the back with golden eyelets and lacingcord.

To add some extra drama, we wanted these fur sleeves, and again I was very picky in choosing the right one. Of course we didn’t buy real fur, but I have to say that the one we found in Verkempinck in Ostend, looks very real.

Then a fitting head accessory was made, together with two bum rolls for underneath the skirts and we also used an already excisting crinoline to create that bell shape.

I finished the dress with hand sewing a ribbon with pearls around the neckline and adding a cross jewel.

I hope you found this blog interesting! Let me know if you would like to see more articles like this from previous designs I made. I just want to apolagize if you found any grammar or writing mistakes. English is not my mother language and I try my best to get better in this.

Next time I will talk about the Queen Elizabeth dress...

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