The Biaut

This is the dress I have always wanted, but to get it out there right away, my construction technique theory is not the mainstream one, so I have not made it. If I made it following accepted construction methods, it would not give the look of the Chartres Cathedral figures. I love the tight fitting torso, matched to the fully pleated skirt that just exudes that aura of yards and yards of delicate fabric. Everyone who has studied the bliaut is familiar with the argument of the one piece vs. two piece bodice/skirt construction argument as well as the manuscript and sculptural images used to defend the position, so I won’t repeat them here. I will give two arguments that I have not heard though.

1st, the reason I hear most often for the figures being carved with the ruching on the torso indicating very narrow fabric width attached to a pleated skirt indicating very wide fabric widths, is that it is a stylistic depiction of the garment not a realistic one. I would argue that it could be a realistic depiction. There is this sculpture:

Figures from the Moderna Cathedral

In which both figures show very accurate depictions of the pleated side gores present in this and other extant garments:

Camice Falta da S. Chiara

So why couldn’t this image be a realistic one?:

One of the Queens from the Chartres Cathedral Royal Portal

2cnd, if it is an accepted stylistic depiction, why isn’t it used consistently? Why is the dress of the two figures, located adjacent to each other in the first two images different? It’s not because one is a King and the other a Queen, because the third image is a King but the dress depiction is the same as that of the two Queens in the first two images.

Figures from the Chartres Cathedral Royal Portal

So I will be making my bliaut with a separate bodice and skirt. The bodice will be cut 1.5x the length of my torso and will be side laced with laces of fingerloop braid. The skirt will be highly pleated and will be sewn onto the bodice. The fabric I will be using is a very lightweight wool, with about the same hand as my handkerchief linen. The sleeves will be 1.5x the length of my arms so that they will have the ruched look seen in the figures. I have not yet decided whether they will be “angel wing” sleeves or the squared off sleeves seen on most of the Chartres Cathedral figures. I also have not yet decided on the neckline. I like the squared off neckline, but the cut of the deep vee neckline intrigues me.

Figures from the Chartres Cathedral Royal Portal

The decoration around the neckline will be this trim with the beads sewn in the interior spaces of the pattern:

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