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PrincessKaimi 05-12-2011 09:43 PM

Renaissance royal dresses?
Does anyone know of museums in Europe that might have dresses worn by royalty of past times? I'm particularly keen to see something more than shoes (lots of medieval shoes in Paris, Milan and elsewhere in Northern Italy).

But how about dresses? Where could I plan to travel to see, for example, Renaissance dresses? Do any dresses of princesses, duchesses, countesses - or any sort of lady - still exist?

Even if it's a museum in a small town, I'd love to know about it! Thanks in advance for any advice/help (and it's okay if there's something in North America - one never knows where such things might turn up).

Lady-Jayne 05-13-2011 12:15 AM

Hi PrincessKaimi,

I'm not quite sure if it really counts as royalty, but there are a few items of clothing which belonged to the Renaissance Medici family in Florence at the Palazzo Pitti.

The items belonged to Eleanora of Toledo and her sons. She was born a Spanish noblewoman. She married Cosimo I de' Medici in 1539 and she died in 1562. The dress on display in the museum was recovered from her grave when the graves where exhumed (together with those of two of her sons, who died around the same time as their mother). From memory I think they were trying to determine the actual cause of death as there had been some suggestion of foul play.

The dress had badly deteriorated, but there is still enough of it and her undergarments to see what they would have been like. I was lucky enough to visit this museum in September 2009.

The Victoria and Albert museum in London has a fantastic costume collection, so they might have something from this period. There is also a very good collection at the Costume Museum in Bath in the UK, but as far as I can remember, the earliest pieces they have date from the early 17th century and are not linked with royalty as far as I know.

I think there would be very few surviving clothes from the Renaissance period as fabrics tend to deteriorate over time.

I hope this helps.

PrincessKaimi 05-13-2011 12:25 AM

Yes, I'm thinking little would have survived (so sad). Thank you for telling me about the Pitti Palace. We missed it when in Florence last year - but are planning another trip and that certainly will be my goal (to see that dress).

So, if no 15-16th century dresses survive, much, are there collections from the 17th century? I'm not sure why, I was obsessed with historical European fashion before the royal wedding, now I'm determined to get to see as much as I can. I am sure I'll be delighted with the Victoria and Albert Museum Collection, even if the dresses are not royally connected - and that we can do next year, as 2012 is our year for London.

Lady-Jayne 05-13-2011 12:43 AM

The Pitti Palace is really worth a look if you can get there. As it's over on the other side of the Arno it's a bit off the tourist track and it was wonderfully peaceful when we were there!

I you're going to London, you should try to go to Kensington Palace as well as they have displays of BRF clothing. I am not sure how permanent the display is, I think they may rotate things around. Who knows, you might be lucky enough to see Catherine's wedding dress.

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