My art: 1560s red Pisa dress

Living Fashion is a series in which I draw historical clothing on active people, inspired by Draw This Dress by artists Emily Carroll and Vera Brosgol.

It’s finally done! I’ve been working on this on and off for almost two months.
This lady snuck out at night and runs by the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. I’m still not entirely satisfied with her – she seems too stiff. The reference photo I used wasn’t the best, I guess.

But I am proud of the details, like the pearls on the snood (I made the snood up according to popular styles of the day) and the background, which I think is fairly good for someone who doesn’t bother with backgrounds.
That shoe is based off of this slipper, which probably wouldn’t be too good to run in. I was tempted to give her chopines, but those are really impractical for running.

The original dress is sometimes called the Red Pisa dress. It is one of very few surviving dresses from Renaissance Italy in good enough shape to put on a mannequin. It lives in the Palazzo Reale in Pisa.

The original
The original

The dress was likely owned by a rich lady before it was adapted to be worn by a statue of the Virgin Mary in the San Matteo monastery in Pisa. (It always amuses me when Renaissance people dress religious and historical people in Renaissance clothing.) It has been dated to the 1560s – that’s over 450 years old. It has been restored twice since that time.
It’s probable that the maker of the dress was Master Agostino, who designed a similar funeral dress for Eleonora di Toledo. However, I think the dress in the painting below is way more similar – it’s nearly identical.
Portrait of a Lady (1560s) Workshop of Allori
Portrait of a Lady (1560s)
Workshop of Allori

The Red Pisa dress has slashes in the shoulders and sleeves. It would have been worn over a white chemise, and the chemise would have been plucked through the slashes to form little puffs.

You can read more about the Red Pisa dress at these sites:


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