“Life wasn’t easy for a lot of people” in centuries past, says Lauren Rossi, aka the Virtuous Courtesan. “I’m not really interested in recreating the life, but I love the fashion.”Rossi is a fashion history enthusiast who turns her love for clothing into what she refers to as “historical couture.” Her dresses and accessories, all of which she crafts herself, are dramatic and large-scale, often with voluminous bustles, lace-up corsets, and elaborate details including feathers and embroidery.“I like to mix elements of different historical time periods and modern fashion,” she says, with a focus on the late 18th century and the late 19th century. That said, she’s a fabric purist: Her creations eschew modern materials like Lycra in favor of cotton, linen, wool, and silks that would have been used back then.
“I love all the work and heart and labor that went into clothing” back then, she says. Doing it herself now, as a creative outlet, is what makes her feel fulfilled today.
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