This week on Costume Analytics, we take a look at another of Marie Antoinette’s fabulous dresses, from the Sophia Coppola movie . This time it is the beautiful celadon green zone-front gown, with the striking red velvet belt.
A zone-front gown is a Robe a l’Anglaise with diagonal or curved pieces sweeping from the top at center front, back to the side seams (or just before) at the waist, then opening up into the skirt. This creates a separate piece across the stomach (a separate “zone) that was often a different color, but in the case of our celadon gown, is the same color, with the same trimmings.
That being said, the gown closes all the way down the front with hooks and eyes, edge-to-edge, with the front trimmings touching together. The open skirt falls from where the diagonal pieces meet the waist. The back of the gown appears to be en fourreau, a method where the back of the skirt and the back of the bodice are one piece, and the bodice portion is pleated and sewn down to create the shaping.
The sleeves are a-typical of a Robe a l’Anglaise in that they are full length, with large cuffs at the wrists, more reminiscent of a riding habit. They are shaped sleeves, in two pieces (upper and under sleeves), curved at the elbow.
I haven’t found a pattern for a zone-front gown, but many patterns for Robe a l’Anglaises are available, and with a little ingenuity, you can slice the front bodice pieces diagonally to create the separate pieces. Simples!
Fabrics & Trims
From reading more about this dress on Costumer’s Guide to Movie Costumes, I’ve found that it is made of a rather slubby silk (like a dupioni), though for purposes of re-creation, you could go with a nice taffeta for the same effect.
|Fashion Fabrics Club – silk dupioni in Pearl Mint|
The trimmings consist of gathered bands of organza. This may be the same organza as the ruffled cuffs on the sleeves, which feature a wide finishing band of celadon green on the edge, and smaller stripes within. The edging on the center front of the bodice, the zone edges, and the skirt, are gathered on the edges, about 1/4″ in, whereas the ruffles on the neckline and the cuffs of the sleeves are gathered in the center. Also at the neckline there is an inset of another organza-like trim with a frayed edge, just peaking out from under the neckline.
The standout feature of this gown is the wide red belt. This is velvet, appearing to be about 2.5″ wide, and is threaded through an oval rhinestone buckle of the same width. It’s difficult to see how the belt closes, but it appears to be at the back, maybe with hooks and eyes, for a smooth line.
It’s all about the hair, with Marie Antoinette. It’s a “hedgehog” style, loosely curled and teased, with one curled lock hanging from the back. She wears a hair ornament of fabric leaves and roses, possibly made from the same fabric as her dress. For jewelry, we see simple earrings and two rings.
No doubt, Marie Antoinette is (or would be) wearing stays, a chemise (though it doesn’t show above the neckline of the gown), and skirt supports consisting of several petticoats and a bumpad (not panniers).
Tips on Making This Costume
- Use a Robe a l’Anglaise pattern, and re-draft the front by slicing the pattern for the diagonal pieces, and adding seam allowance.
- Afraid of en fourreau backs? Me too. A normal Anglaise back would work just fine.
|JP Ryan’s Anglaise patterns, including one with an en fourreau back, whee!|
- Look for wide velvet ribbon for the belt, and back it with interfacing if it is not stiff enough.
- Wide organza ribbon would work perfectly for the gathered trims. If it’s not available, cut strips of organza cloth with pinking sheers (or hem all that length, if you’re crazy!)
- Michael’s craft store has rhinestone buckles in the bridal section. You can also get them online, try here.
- Many fashion plates show similar gowns in stripes. If you’re not wild about the color of MA’s gown, try the overdress in striped taffeta, and the zone front and petticoat in a solid color.