Per Mano Isabel Maria

Court Gowns


"Court Gown" or "Court Garb" is one of those broad categories used to differentiate clothing in the SCA. Generally speaking, 'court' garments are the somewhat more spectacular clothes worn for high end events such as balls and Royal courts etc. In my case, they are also worn on those occasions where the venue has enough room for costumes with big skirts and trains. Or, when I have a new one to show off. Or, when I feel like it...

The vast majority of these garments date from before my first Spanish style gown.

1570s French Rounde Gowne

Velveteen and silk brocade French style rounde gowne worn during Lochac's Midwinter Coronation, held in Cluain during 2006Completed: July 2006, for Midwinter Coronation

Inspiration: The gown is based on a large number of French images from around the 1570s. Where I lacked details I turned to Patterns of Fashion and English portraits showing French style gowns.

There really is something about making one of your dream gowns using fabric that was carefully hoarded for six or seven years. Especially when you find the perfect silk brocade to match it with.

The majority of this gown was completed in two days. Domestic issues prevented work on this gown for some time. However, just out from the event, I broke down and made something new.

The time constraints resulted in a less ornate style, which is equally documentable to the period. Although it is a lovely gown it was never quite the one I had planned.

The farthingale is sitting badly at the hem because the lowest hoop was damaged during the trip back from Rowany Festival. (I see a new project on the horizon. One that involves testing new hoop materials with a view to finding one that will stand up to modern packing and luggage handling.)

Photo by Peter Grooby

1495 Venetian Ensemble

Red velveteen & cream brocade Venetian EnsembleCompleted: Overgown, August 2005, Carnivale Ball
Undergown, March 2002, Baronial Anniversary & Royal Visit

Inspiration: the Meeting of the Betrothed Couple, in the Saint Ursula Cycle by Carpaccio, 1495.

The red velveteen over-gown is lined with gold satin and trimmed with various fine gold braids.

Also trimmed with gold braid, the cream brocade under-gown is further decorated with gold fleur-de-lys infilled with small synthetic pearls over the bust and upper arm. The other upper sleeve bears a silver Caidan cross on a blue velvet circle that was added for the final Caidan Royal visit in 2002.

Incidentally, the mask was also made by Isabel.

It is a moulded papier mache mask, decorated with gold braid, paint and metal findings that utilizes black satin ribbons to hold it in place. The base was created using tissue paper and paste (flour and water). The papier mache was carefully applied over a modified plaster full face mask. The plaster mask was protected from the paste by sealing it in a plastic bag. The bag also held a selection of modifications (such as extra nose length and cheek height) in place during moulding and drying.

Photo by Peter Grooby

1635 English Cavalier Gown

Grey Satin, 1635 English 'Cavalier' GownCompleted: December 2003, Wedding of Angus & Elisabetta

Inspiration: Several portraits and one of Meistern Christian's gorgeous gowns

Dove grey satin gown with white lace and vibrant blue ribbons, inspired by various pictures of English Royalty.

This gown was constructed in a week with some help from Meistern Christian, in the week after (ie the week before the wedding) we finished assisting the Bride and Groom with making their own clothes, and those of their entourage. The Bride wore Elizabethan, the Groom & Best Man wore Cavalier and the Bridesmaids wore late 16thC German.

The collar and cuffs are borrowed.

This outfit numbers among my favourites. It is so pretty and feminine and even with the corset, bum roll and all the lace, ribbons and pearls etc, it still retains a lightness that ensures it is a pleasure to wear. I hope to explore the clothes of this period a little more in time to come.

Photo taken by Rachael Privilege

Frankish "Arnegunde" Ensemble

Wool and Linen Arnegunde EnsembleCompleted: November 2003, National Association of Ancient and Medieval Arts (NAAMA) Encampment

Inspiration: Archaeological information given in several academic publications regarding the find in St Denis Chapel.

I have deviated from their hypothesised garments in several areas. For example, the caftan is wool (rather than silk) and the tunic is ground length rather than exposing the lower legs.

I am currently completing an article to document my reconstruction and explain my choices in greater detail. When complete, it will be made available on this site.

Please excuse my crummy photography by timer

15th Century Transitional Gown

Blue Silk, Transitional 'v-neck' gownCompleted: February 2003, for Canterbury Faire

Inspiration: Numerous manuscript illustrations

As part of my preparations for the big OE, I created this French gown so that I would have something to wear to court while overseas.

Designed to pack down as small as possible, the gown is fine silk lined with thin linen. The turn-backs at collar and cuff are of a slightly heavier white cotton brocade. I left the hem plain to reduce bulk and avoid the mud and dust at Pennsic. The plan was to add the brocade band around the hem when the silk was damaged.

The belt, worn just below the bust, is made of multiple layers of canvas covered in fine lavender silk to match the hennin.

This is a transitional gown of the period between houpelaunds and the fitted-bodice "Burgundian" gowns, and is worn over a fitting, front laced kirtle. The breast-band of that kirtle is visible in the neckline.

(The dress really needed to be re-introduced to an iron after unpacking but it was Pennsic, what was I going to do?)

Photo by Peter Grooby

Many of these images were previously seen at