adjective: old fashioned, out of style, unfashionable [from French, the past participle of démoder "to go out of fashion," from mode "fashion"].


historical research

the gowns:

the presentation


The Duchesse de Bassano - Created & Modeled by Lynne Taylor

Duchesse de Bassano
Duchesse de Bassano
Duchesse de Bassano
The Duchesse de Bassano
Lynne as the Duchesse

The Duchesse de Bassano was born Marie Madeleine Lejas Carpentier. No date of birth was found. She was married to Hugues-Bernard Marett who was granted the title of Duc in 1809 by Napeleon I, making her a Duchesse. The Duc died in 1839 so by the time of Winterhalter’s  painting in 1855 the Duchesse was a widow. No date for the death of the Duchesse was found.

Duchesse de Bassano
The Duchesse de Bassano in her youth


Very little of the dress shows as painted, but it appears to be silk taffeta in a dark red color.  A red silk satin bow is visible on the dress. By looking at the surrounding dresses, Lynne believes the dress bertha is trimmed all around with a self fabric ruche and black silk lace with red silk ribbon at the shoulder points.

As reproduced:

  • Dress bodice and skirt flounces: The dress is silk taffeta in red, shot with grey, producing a dark red cherry color.
  • The bodice lining/skirt base: dark red polished cotton. In order to save fabric and money Lynne used matching polished cotton for the skirt base. Lynne used the same cotton for the flat lining of the bodice.
  • Trim: Silk satin ribbon, self fabric ruche and vintage black lace. Lynne bought the lace at Lacis and was told it is a natural fiber, most likely silk.
  • Tucker:  White cotton, trimmed with vintage cotton lace. The binding is of cotton percale.
  • Underpinnings: The chemise is white cotton muslin, with a percale cotton binding. The corset is peach colored cotton coutil, cotton lining. The hoop is made of cotton muslin. The drawers are vintage, made of linen with a natural fiber lace.
fabric fabric


Most of the bodice is obscured by the black lace shawl the Duchess is wearing. What is visible: an off the shoulder evening style bodice, with a self fabric pleated bertha, trimmed with a red bow center front and white tucker trimmed with lace.

The bodice: was patterned by Martha McCain for Simplicity number 5724. McCain is a noted historical pattern maker. This pattern has the correct pattern shapes, with center front seam, side front and back princess seams and center back opening. Lynne did however re-draft the center front into a narrower point. The bodice is boned with flat steel at center front, back and sides. The front princess seams are boned with spiral steel. Bone casings are made from the red polished cotton cut on bias. It is piped at the neckline, armholes and waist by a self fabric piping. The piping is corded with a thin cotton yarn and a silk ribbon runs under the neckline piping exiting at center back and tying in a bow. The bodice closes at center back by 36 hand stitched silk thread eyelets. All seams are overcast by hand.

The bertha: has a center front seam and shoulder seams. It is constructed with bias cut strips of red silk fabric mounted on a crinoline base, the back of the crinoline is covered in self fabric and the bertha edges are self bias bound and a self fabric strip covers the center front and shoulder seams. Vintage black lace hangs gracefully from the edge of the bertha, it is lightly gathered and hand stitched to the bertha edge. 108 inches of hand gathered scalloped cut ruching finishes the edge of the bertha. Red silk satin ribbon bows are attached to the center front and shoulders. The bertha is hand stitched to the bodice at the upper edge just below the piping.

The sleeves: are made from the same fabric as the body of the bodice. They are a single puff, mounted on an under sleeve, trimmed with hand gathered black vintage lace around the armband.

Only the seams on the interior of the bodice and the piping seams are done on the machine. All other work is done by hand.

bodice bodice bodice


The skirt appears to be made of red silk taffeta in a period popular three-tiered style mounted on a red silk base. The tier edges are unfinished, and pinked in a pattern of small scallops on large scallops. The tiers are gathered to fit the base, the top tier cut to match the base then the top tier/base skirt is cartridge pleated and whip stitched to the waistband. It appears to be untrimmed. Skirts of this era, were made in a variety of ways (Elizabeth Stewart Clark; Skirting the Issue; Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion number 1).

The skirt base is made of matching polished cotton, in order to save the expensive silk fabric for the outermost layer. It is cut in straight panels, and measures 150’ in circumference and is 36’ inches long. The skirt flounces were cut on the straight. The top tier measures 150’ wide and 16 inches long at center front. Top two tiers have a 3 inch overhang so the base skirt will not show. The middle tier is 180’ wide and 14.5’ (11.5 showing), the bottom tier is 212’ wide and 14.5 (11.5’ showing). The flounces were marked for the cut scalloped edge with a self made template. Then gathered on a cord and hand stitched to the base skirt. The skirt was then balanced at the waist so that the back is longer than front. Center front finished measure is 39’ center back 41’. Next, the skirt was cartridge pleated, gathered to waist measure, then each pleat was whip stitched to a waist band. The center back seam forms the placket opening. It closes with hooks and eyes. After the skirt was sewn, the pre-marked scallops were cut with scallop shears.  Lynne did the scallop cutting last so the cut edges of the skirt might avoid fraying. No modern fray preventive was used (tests showed that the fabric went noticeably dark where the fray preventive was applied). The skirt base seams are machine sewn as are the panel seams, and placket seams. The tiers are mounted to the base by hand. The cartridge pleating is all hand done and hand whip stitched to the waistband.

skirt Duchesse de Bassano Duchesse de Bassano


  • The chemise: patterned by Martha McCain for Simplicity number 5726. A low cut ball gown chemise with cap sleeves. Made from white cotton muslin bias bound with white cotton percale.  Pearl button faux
    closures at the shoulder. Machined French seams and hand sewn.
  • The corset: pattern by Laughing Moon Mercantile. Peach colored corset coutil, lined in peach cotton.
  • The hoop: Lynne made the hoop in 2000 for my first Dickens Faire costume, the instructions were included in the Pattern of History 1857 Dress.
  • The Petticoat: In the interest of time Lynne used a three tiered petticoat she made about three years ago from cotton machine embroidered eyelet bed ruffles mounted on a base of cotton.
  • Lynne owns vintage split drawers, in the interest of time she choose to use these instead of making new.


The black lace shawl: the shawl was made for Lynne's first costume in 2000.It is made from a length of synthetic lace that is cut to form the center of a triangle, the two cut pieces for either side are re-attached to form a complete triangle. The bottom is edged in lace, unknown fiber content.

The bracelets: Lynne looked for months to find a bracelet to match the braided bracelet from the painting. She never found anything that looked close. She finally made a bracelet from a vintage gold colored metal belt - cut it into three parts, braided them and used jewelry finding to attach the bracelet together.  Lynne also purchased a gold bangle bracelet and ring.

The necklace: gold serpentine chain cut into correct length, locket removed from original fancy chain and pendant hanger added.

accessories accessories bodice


The Duchesse wears her hair with a center part, the hair is pulled back over pads to in order to widen the sides. The back would be in a low chignon, most likely braided. It is accessorized by ribbons and lace.

The duchesse has much darker hair than Lynne does so she bought and styled a wig for this project. She incorporated red silk ribbon and lace into the hairstyle at the back.

hair hair bodice
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Last revised June 20, 2008.
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