I found King Richard III’s wife Anne Neville, a really enjoyable character doll to create. It is rare that I get the chance to work on costumes from this particular historical era. Late medieval female costume is so elegant, with long sweeping lines and very feminine.
Once again the costume books were consulted for the most popular styles worn in the early to mid 1480s. To keep this doll as feminine as possible I decided to take the lighter shades from Richard’s colour scheme and use these for the main colours for Anne, accenting them with darker tones. Richard’s doublet and the lining of his robe were pale gold so I used a similar coloured silk jacquard for Anne’s main gown and teamed it with another rich dark red silk for her under-gown.
Firstly, I put some silk stockings on her… and then some pantaloons. Now before the historians amongst you start shouting at me, I know they were not invented then…….but I have my reasons for doing this.
Although ladies of these times did not wear pantaloons, I always put them on my miniature lady dolls. The reason for this is very simple: Firstly, people ALWAYS turn dolls upside down to see what they are wearing underneath! Secondly, most of my dolls are quite poseable and, with this kind of doll, there is usually a join where the lower porcelain part of the leg meets the upper wired and padded section of the leg and hips. Pantaloons cover this join so that the doll looks nicer when she is inevitably turned upside down!
Leather shoes with slightly pointed toes were then added to complete her under garments.
The under-gown was then fitted in two parts, a tight close-fitting strapless bodice that represented the corset and the skirt which was often worn longer than the wearer for a woman of this class. To avoid bulk, I attached the skirt around the doll’s waist as I knew I would need to keep the area below her bust as smooth as possible to accommodate the skirt of the main gown. The doll was then placed on a cork board where her skirt was draped and pinned into folds.
Over-gowns of this time were often voluminous with trains and skirts fell from just under the bust like an Empire line. Although V necked bodices had been popular, these did give way to a wide round necked version where the top of the corset could just be seen. Sleeves could be narrow and fitted and I felt that this style would suit the doll best.
As far as fashion goes, in my opinion, the 15th century had some of the most ridiculous headdresses for women that history has ever seen. Size and shape became quite huge and outlandish and must have been quite a hazard for anyone standing too close! By the mid 1480s the ‘butterfly’ headdress had become the thing to be seen in for all fashionistas of this time. Basically it was an adaptation of the popular Burgundy headdress (like a tall fez) with the addition of wire frames to support a gauze veil.
The fez part was worn quite far back on the head rather than on the top. Wires that looked like the antennae of a butterfly protruded from the back and another V shaped wire frame was attached at the front. The veil was then draped over the wires in a variety of different ways, depending on the wearer. At this time, it was still fashionable to pluck the front of the hairline to give the appearance of a high forehead, the rest of the hair being pulled back tightly and pinned up underneath the headdress, often in a linen under-cap. I had not made one of these ‘butterfly’ monstrosities before in miniature but was quite surprised that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.
Although fiddly, I was pleased with the final result. (Some of you may have noticed that I used the same fabric to cover the fez as I used for Richard’s stomacher).
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the making of my Queen Anne Neville doll. She is available for sale. So if you are interested in buying her please do contact me either through this blog, Twitter, Face Book or my main website
If you would like to read about my Richard III doll please scroll down to the post before.