Updated on November 2, 2015
In the Closet
The blue velvet gown hangs, testing the strength of its hanger, at the back of the closet. It hasn’t been worn in years and dust has settled within the short, dense pile, dulling the luster of the royal navy creation.
It needs work. The corset loops need to be reinforced and the shoulder strap is frayed.
It is a work of art, created during a hopeful spring in the mountains. Paper patterns, copied onto brown wrapping discarded on the floor, cheap cotton mockups with tentative markings strewn beside them. Plastic ties, serving as bodice boning, broken sewing machine needles, hundreds of pins and scraps of fabric littered the tabletops.
I worked in a frenzy of pleasure, listening to Italian radio while I hand-stitched eighty inches of velvet skirt pleats to the bodice.
My Venetian renaissance gown is a perfect novice’s attempt at recreating a masterpiece from a Renaissance painting. The chemise with cotton lace trim peeks delicately from the edge of the bodice and from beneath the tied on sleeves, which are finished with thick, intricate white lace cuffs. The blue cording crosses back and forth in straight lines across the v-shaped gap in the bodice, puckering the chemise with delight, and lifting the breasts toward heaven in a style particular to Venetian design. It’s a shame I can’t wear it more often.