V223: 17th Century Infanta Inspiration

Aug 10, 2012 9 comments
Blargh, I hate being sick.  I don't want to sew or do much of anything, really, but it's just so easy to look at pretty pictures....so I'll do some of that.

Next year's Costume College theme is "Cavalier with a Touch of Pirate."  Yay!  More love for the 17th c!  So of course, we're already getting excited, scheming and dreaming up ideas for splendiferous 17th century gowns to rock the socks off the Gala red carpet.

Here is the avenue that has caught my attention, the Infanta portraits by Velasquez.  Aren't these gowns just ridonc?

The Infanta Don Margarita de Austria Date: 1652-53 
Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress, 1659, Velasquez
Velásquez, Infanta Don Margarita de Austria 1660
Velasquez, Retrato de la Infanta Margarita, 1653-56

I'm so awestruck by these gowns, the huge panniers, the giant skirts on the bodices, and all the whosiz-whatsits going on up in the necklines.  The hair, the trims, the everythings!  There are loads of other 17th c. gowns that are gorgeous too, and far less...wide...but you know what it's like when you hit upon something and begin to obsess over it.  The trick will be figuring out how to do something like this justice without breaking the bank. :-)


  1. Eep! nearly 30 year ago I made a costume based on that first pic. We used curtain tape gathered up and sprayed silver as the trim. Looked great on stage!
    Get well soon, poppet. Agree, ill sucks!!

    1. that's a great idea! I've sprayed lace before and really liked the effect, though it needed more than the one coat I gave it. I was looking at Sari trim on eBay, or potentially even Christmas french wired ribbon, the really wide stuff, for something like the last gown, in pink. Who knows! Figuring this out is part of the fun :-)

  2. You could layer smaller, inexpensive trims together, or make a lot of bias out of nice fabrics. Also, painting on fabric is entirely period-appropriate.

    Have you seen this reproduction:- http://historical-costumes.com/page23/page25/page25.html You'll want to hover on the top "For events" tab.

  3. I think you could easily do something like the blue one with bias-cut trim... no?
    These dresses are easily one of the craziest things I've ever seen; and I'm still madly in love with the blue one.
    I also find it interesting to observe how she grew up...

    1. I think the bias cut trim would work too, if I can source the right fabric for it. It would definitely work for the pink one. I'm leaning towards the black/blue where she is older, with the crazy sculpty hairstyle.

  4. I love Velazquez's paintings, one of the most important artists in history. There's another example of Velazquez maestry http://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/online-gallery/on-line-gallery/obra/the-family-of-felipe-iv-or-las-meninas/
    The huge panniers is called in Spanish "guardainfante", and came into use after 1640. People at that time said that the "guardainfante" was used to hide pregnancies, hence its name.

    I've always been in love with the Spanish court gowns of the 16th and 17th century. Especially with the 16th century. The Spanish court was famous for his strict protocol. The power of the Spanish monarchy during the reign of Felipe II caused the Spanish fashion was imposed across Europe for a century. Black was the court colour. It was a very expensive colour.

    This spring I tried to recreate this court gown. It's unfinished, and isn't 100% historically accurate (I just try to reproduce the style) but, ey! It's my first historical costume.

    I'm sure you're going to made a gorgeous "guardainfante". And I hope you get well soon.

    1. I agree, Del Rio, these gowns are splendid and fascinating. I also adore the 16th c. Spanish fashions, and how they influenced the English fashions of the time as well.

      Thank you for the name for the understructure, "guardeinfanta." It makes perfect sense. I can see a "rabbit hole" of research for a gown like this. I know very little of Spanish costume history, but I enjoy researching, so it's a good excuse!

  5. Smo eyears ago I went to a masquearde where a woman hade made the blue infanta dress to her 6-year old daughter. Possibly one of thh cutests things I have ever seen!


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