Costume Analytics: Marie Antoinette’s Celadon Zone-Front Gown

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.


  • Anonymous

    November 4, 2010 at 4:31 AM

    I saw it in person and it really is a blue, not green. But if you saw my site, you saw we did try to get some pantone matches. "The two closest Pantone matches were 13-5305, pale aqua, which is slightly too green, and 14-4502, mercury, which is slightly grayer."

    The stripes in the organza are also blue, Pantone 13-4804, "pale blue". And the trim on the front does indeed appear to be the striped organza.

    I know color is in the eye of the beholder to a certain extent. It just surprised me though since I've never heard anyone call it green before! 🙂

  • Lauren Stowell

    November 4, 2010 at 6:19 AM

    Padawan – I did read the notes on your site and was utterly thrilled that someone would match pantone colors to a costume, that's so geeky and cool!! <3 I haven't seen the dress in person, of course, so it's only how the light is affected it in the film that I am able to observe. Celadon is a curious color, it ranges from very blue to very minty green, depending on how the glaze comes out of the kiln. I would call another of MA's gowns (the green redingote when she's walking through the field back to Versailles) also celadon. Maybe I'm just obsessed with the color, hahahaha. If I had to pick though, I would agree with you, and call this gown more on the blue side than the green, certainly.

  • Anonymous

    November 4, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    Hi Lauren
    Go to our Facebook page!/album.php?aid=153271&id=286101116712 for pictures from our "Zone Gown" workshops. The originals that have actually been studied tend to be cut (quartered) in the back rather then en fourreau and the "zone" can be made with seperate pieces or just by "folding" the fabric to create the zone area and then embellishing with trim. It is a wonderful style and very flattering!!!
    Angela Burnley

  • Margravine Louisa

    November 4, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    oooooh—its all very geeky (lol) in the accuracy – thanks for the detailed descriptions, it really is VERY helpful!
    (gorgeous dress, gorgeous slim model).
    Great blog!

  • J.A. Gough

    November 4, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    I was just thinking about how much I would love to make this gown recently (like, last week), and put it on my list of things to research… Thank You!!

  • Lauren Stowell

    November 5, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    I think I definitely have to make a zone-front something now. I didn't realize I did two Costume Analytics in a row with zone front gowns…

  • Andrew Schroeder

    June 18, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    I've looked at every image I could find of this dress, and I'm pretty sure it's not a zone front; it just has diagonal trimming.

  • Lauren R

    June 18, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    Andrew, I think you're right. When I make this gown I'm going to just diagonal trim too, 'cuz what's point if a zone front is just covered in trim anyway, right?

    Oh, also, I don't think it's an en fourreau back anymore, either….


Leave a Reply