Don Giovanni Costumes, Womenswear

6 Oct

Last time, we took a look at some of the menswear from my award-winning Don Giovanni photo. Today, I’m going to show you all of the gowns I made for the ladies!

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

As I mentioned in my last post, the image depicts Don Giovanni during his dinner party where the players are entertaining him. Each player is supposed to represent a character from the Commedia Dell’arte and each outfit is supposed to enhance the sex appeal of a certain body part (Bosom, Legs and Hips). Commedia Dell’arte is an art form, the basis of most comedy throughout History, and is formed of stock characters such as the fat buffoonish man (Harlequin) and his sexy wife (Columbina), who you will recognize in modern comedies such as The Simpsons (Homer/Marge), Family Guy (Peter/Lois) and many sitcoms. Each character is represent by a mask, so that no matter who plays Harlequin, the face is instantly recognizable. It’s a lot like a grassroots ad-campaign, getting people to know the characters in a time before television and advertising existed. There are numerous other characters in Commedia as well!

These costumes, while all based on something Historical, are meant to look more High-Fashion and theatrical. I wanted to do a Historical Dolce and Gabbana, essentially.


Guitar Player – Isabella

First, the sexy hips of Isabella, the Guitar Lady. Isabella is Commedia Dell’arte figure who is generally a very sassy, strong willed woman who finds love with the help of the other characters.

The model, Danica, wears the dress cheerfully.

The model, Danica, wears the dress cheerfully.

Her dress is based off a dress conceptualized by the illustrator Barbier in his image “Jour et Nuit”. I based my dress of of “jour” down there.

Barbier's illustration "Jour et Nuit" (Day and Night)

Barbier’s illustration “Jour et Nuit” (Day and Night)

I made the gown out of Silk Taffeta, and the bodice, which descends over the hips, is made up of random pintucks of the fabric.

The white, pintucked silk gown worn by the guitar playing lady in my photo.

The white, pintucked silk gown worn by the guitar playing lady in my photo.

The gown laces up the back, and the skirt is lined with tulle to give it some more shape.

The white silk gown from the front and the back.

The white silk gown from the front and the back.

A hoop is placed under the gown to make the hips suuuuuuper wide. Because I’m using a rococo hoop, which is worn at the waist, and the dress extends to the hips, it sort of forces the hoops to pop up through resistance. The neck ruff, which stood up so nicely in the arid climate of Montana, drooped despairingly when we got to the humidity of California, but, there it is.

A hoop is placed underneath and this lifts the hips out.

A hoop is placed underneath and this lifts the hips out.

The lady also wears this lovely vintage set of jewelry I purchased at the local antique market, and which I have listed for sale on Etsy. I am also selling the dress to clear out my closet.




Masked Lady Plaer – Columbina

Next up is the player based off of Columbina. Columbina is a spunky servant girl who is either married to or in love with Harlequin.

I made her mask out of craft foam on the fly, because a leather one was too expensive to buy.

This mask was made from craft foam and rub-n-buffed to be silver.

This mask was made from craft foam and rub-n-buffed to be silver.

The dress, on the other hand, was a fun one to build! It is also the dress I got into an eternal loop trying to turn. When you sew a garment, you sew it back to front and then turn it through an opening and press the seams. Somehow, I managed to make this dress into a sort of tube, and tried to find the other side of the garment, fruitlessly, for around 20 minutes, before realizing it was impossible to turn. Hilarious sewing antics aside, the gown was made out of all of my white fabric scraps!

The center gown was based of of Harlequin and is made of patches of fabric.

The center gown was based of of Harlequin and is made of patches of fabric.

The gown is a skirt in the front, but has a small train in the back. I was trying to think of a High-Fashion take on a rococo gown, with the wide hips, but that showed off the legs. This is what I got:

The patch dress is a skirt in front but has a train in back.

The patch dress is a skirt in front but has a train in back.

I have a lot of white fabric scraps, and I sewed them together, randomly, to make fabric yardage. I did not use any new fabrics, only scraps!

You can see the patchwork fabrics in this detail.

You can see the patchwork fabrics in this detail.

This lady wears the Jewelry shown below. With this necklace I purchased a super cheap necklace at Walmart and added my own jewel findings to it in order to make it more gaudy.



The Feathered Lady – La Ruffiana

The lady on the far right is based off of La Ruffiana, and if you look closely you will see she is holding an ugly mask. La Ruffiana is a Commedia character who is an ugly old woman, usually a pimp or lady of loose morals. I sort of decided, without telling any of the models, that this lady was the Madame of this troop of players, and I just sort of assumed that they all played instruments, did plays and were available for after-parties (if you know what I mean) for Don Giovanni. In the play, Donna Elvira denounces Don Giovanni for his late night sex parties. Anyway, that’s part of my inspiration for illustrating this scene as a high-fashion, Commedia Dell’arte mash-up.


The “madame” of the troupe of players on the right.

You will notice this costume displays bosoms prominently. This gown is based off a Renaissance cut and concept, with poofy sleeves and more of an A-Line then the Rococo’s huge hips.


This dress got stained during its travels, and so I recycled it into another gown for my illustration of “La Finta Semplice”. You can see that process here.

Finally, here is some of the big Jewelry worn by these ladies:


I hope you’ve enjoyed the look at these Commedia inspired gowns I created for my Don Giovanni photo!

There will be so many costume updates from here on out, that I urge you to subscribe to the blog! You won’t want to miss any posts!




2 Responses to “Don Giovanni Costumes, Womenswear”

  1. Roo Bookaroo October 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    How unforgivable to omit “Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots”. You’re missing a fun opera. Have a look at the M-22 DVD in Deutsche Grammophon recording of the 2006 Salzburg Festival, and the production of John Dew. You’ll see that this is much more important and fun than Grabmusik.
    There’s only one colossal misrepresentation by John Dew, and it is the transformation of the critical character “Weltgeist”, or “Worldly Spirit”, who personifies the joy and pleasure of life, and should be a delightfully seductive female. Instead John Dew transforms her into a monstrous-looking devil from hell. A horrendous mistake that you are not obliged to follow, as it is NOT in the libretto.
    For more info, read my 4-star review of this DVD on Amazon: “John Dew Got it Wrong! Gross Misrepresentation of Worldly Spirit in “Schuldigkeit”: She is NOT a Devil from Hell,”
    Whatever, you cannot fail to include Schuldigkeit in your series of projects. This would be absurd, and a mistake.

    • tysonvick October 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

      You have nothing to fear. That photo is finished and already up for viewing on both my gallery here on the blog (“Photos” tab at the top), and on my website You will find it by looking for an image of Worldliness sneaking up on the sleeping Chrisitan under a tree. If there are no blog posts about it yet, there will be at some time! I will be sharing the costumes I made for “Die Schuldigkeit” in the coming months, and you will be interested to hear that I went on a crusade to get the whole play translated (not just Mozart’s part) and it proved to be too cost prohibitive, so I had to give up that plan, even though I have the whole text and am eternally wondering what happens to the Christian who goes to party with numerous people of both genders!

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