Sandro Botticelli created one of art history’s most beloved masterpieces with The Birth of Venus. But when artist Nikolas Bentel looked at the work, he didn’t just see a painting, he saw a dress—specifically, the flowered dress worn by the figure of the Hora of Spring.
Now, Bentel has recreated the flowery garment as a capsule collection with the cream-colored dress, delicate organza top, and billowing pink drapery featured in the painting.
Bentel, who is perhaps best known for The Erased Rauschenberg, in which he sold advertising slots atop a Robert Rauschenberg drawing, doesn’t have a fashion background. Instead, the idea for the project grew out of a desire to “recreate something that had be ‘accidentally designed,’” he told Artnet News.
“Being in product design, where you have to change media and materials frequently, gave me the confidence to try sewing,” Bentel added. “I am also proud to say that I made the first prototype all by myself—even though it did not look good at all.”
Bringing the dress from canvas to closet was a two-year process. Bentel reached out to textile artists from his studies at the joint Brown and RISD MFA program to help him in his quest.
“The first step was to look at the painting and attempt to duplicate each of the visible flowers, catalogue their color and the different flower patterns,” he said. “The second step was to look at similar dresses of the era, in order to match materials and production techniques that one might have used during that time.”
Once he developed a pattern for the outfit, Bentel worked with fabricator who specialized in embroidery and historical garments to put the design into production.
The cream-colored dress is $199, the underlying organza top is $29, and the blanket is $299, each made in a run of 100.
The hand-embroidered fabric features a variety of spring flowers suggesting birth: white and red daisies, blue cornflowers, and yellow primroses.
“The biggest challenge has been finding the right balance between creating something with accuracy but also making it wearable for 2021,” Bentel said. “I wanted to do justice to the painting, while still making it something people might be interested in wearing on a beautiful sunny day this year.”
See more photos of the Botticelli dress below.
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