Contessa Fiori

Could I create an Art Gown, who is both romantic & castle worthy?

I turned to romance novelists Shehanne Moore & Carolee Croft, and castle photographer Inese.

This Art Gown is dedicated to them. They are as gorgeous as the Contessa Fiori.

My fave fabric shop had a going out of business sale. (boo hoo!) I bought black curtain sheer for $1.00/yd. & a men’s suit lining for $0.75/yd.

However, the challenge actually began when a friend gave me an East Indian vintage vest (with inset mirrors) and part of a collectible saree.

I took apart the vest, & over-dyed the fronts black.

The saree ran from a red floral print to a black w/floral print. Cut into squares, 10″x 10″ & 4″x 4″ they were backed in black curtain sheer, & bagged out. The squares were gathered from the centre out to all 4 corners, forming the flowers. Torn strips of the sheer were braided, and used to trim the sheer side panels.

The bow pieces, forming the bustle, came out flat. They were stuffed with used bubble wrap to fluff them out.

It was about then that Mini-Me told Contessa Fiori about the castles in Ireland.

To visit Inese’s post about Kilkenny Castle, click on pic.

Well, the Contessa began to dream about how perfect she would be for castle life.

Contessa Fiori told the other Art Gowns about castles, & showed them pics on Inese’s blog, where you will see more than castles. Visit Inese’s blog by clicking on pic below.

All Castle photos © Inese MJ Photography

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When I told the Art Gowns I was definitely not buying them a castle, they all got in quite the huff. The Contessa strew her flowers all about herself.


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Contessa Fiori & Mini Me thank all for visiting Art Gowns.

🌹Special thank you’s to Carolee Croft, Shehanne Moore & Inese 🌹

To read the blurbs about these fab books, click on the covers, or banners Please note the 2 books from Carolee are 18+

💐 I’ve read Carolee’s  books, “Ariella’s Escape” & “The Greyhounds of Sorrento Book 1”. I enjoyed both a lot, but the 2 books offered today, reflect the era of Contessa Fiori. 💐

Visit Carolee’s Blog – by Carolee Croft

♞ I’ve read “Splendor”, & really enjoyed it! I’m 1/2 way through “Loving Lady Lazul”. I adore being swept into a different era. ♞  Amazon UK  Kindle 99p   Amazon UK Paperback 10.99  Kindle 1.29 Paperback  14.00

Visit Shehanne’s Blog  2.98$  £2.27 –Amazon uk


Art Gown Contessa Fiori created by © Resa McConaghy – 2018

All photos of Contessa Fiori © Resa McConaghy

Art Gowns & all Art Gowns Stories © Resa McConaghy 2012 – 2018

After the photo shoot, Mini Me sulked in a corner. She claimed her outfit wasn’t perfect.

148 thoughts on “Contessa Fiori

    1. Thank you, dear LDN! You know, the Art Gowns think Tuxedos are castle worthy. I heard them talking about your tux. Maybe it’s for the best if he doesn’t get to see this post. ❦❦

  1. Dear Resa, I love this incredible gown , it is both elegant , rich, and the strapless low cut bust is so sexy yet fit for any contessa. I love the way you have gone step by step through the creation of this ball gown, describing the material and fabrics and their origins. You’ve totally out down yourself and let me give a yell out to Shehanne and Carollee for their amazing contribution and inspiration. You’re a gifted lady dear lady. Thank you for a tour of one of your finest creations! ♥️💕

    1. Yay!! So Happy you came to see the Contessa! ❦
      I think it’s important to go through the steps, as there is so much up-cycling and repurposing and using of fabrics no one wants. I want people to know that the Art Gowns are “green”, in a way, and that beauty can be created from anything.
      Sending love! 🌹💖

  2. Resa, your Contessa Fiori is indeed both regal and romantic! I always love to read your step by step guide and marvel. You are amazing!
    Shehanne and Carolee are great authors and possibly secret time travelers. I can see how their books inspired this gown. Hope many more creations will follow.
    Thank you for including me in your blog. I love to be a part of the celebration 🙂 ❤

    1. Inese xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Resa let me see early ideas here and as I said to Carolee, I thought OMG…but now I see these.. well.. I know MG can be bettered. You are a great photographer and I am beyond humbled to be mentioned here in such great company, you, Carolee and by Resa.. Just a wonderful moment x

      1. Oh, we all know where the inspiration comes from 🙂 I just provided the settings for the gown, the color palette. Resa’s magic was inspired by the works of two experts on the period and the human nature. Yay for the collaboration! 🙂

    2. Thank you, Inese! So glad you enjoy the process. As I said to Holly, “there is so much up-cycling and repurposing and using of fabrics no one wants. I want people to know that the Art Gowns are “green”, in a way, and that beauty can be created from anything”

      Your castle shots were perfect for this post, and I can’t thank you enough for helping me to write a fun post! Shehanne and Carolee are wonderful romance writers, and this Art Gown is a passionate one.
      Again, Thank You! 🌹💐🌺❦

  3. Ode to the Contessa Fiori: Her beauty and elegance, regal style, gathered up in lush bustles and bows and ties, may grace stone corridors for many a mile, of the finest castles in all of Eire, she catches the eye and becomes admired, Contessa Fiori romancer divine.

    1. Thank you, Vintage! That is a lovely ode, and a very, very creative reply. I appreciate you taking the time. … Contessa Fiori, romancer of mine! ❦🌺💐

  4. Carolee Croft

    Resa, you did an amazing job! I’m charmed to meet Contessa Fiori, and she definitely deserves to live in a beautiful castle. That naughty bodice is to die for!

    I like it when you share the various stages of making the gowns… it’s a fascinating peek into your creative process. And thank you so much for sharing my books! Plus I’m a huge fan of Shehanne Moore’s romances and Inese’s photography, and I feel like I’m in good company here. xoxoxoxoxo

    1. Carolee, I love your books and Resa’s Gowns and Inese’s photographs so much. I am swanking it here to be breathing the same air as you great ladies. Resa sent me some shots of her first bits and bobs for this gown. I thought they were to die for. now I see THIS is the real McCoy and well……… I feel I need to reconstruct my jaw. xx

      1. Carolee Croft

        I know how you feel, Shey. I was totally blown away by the Contessa, and the fact that she’s dedicated to us? I feel very lucky and honoured! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

    2. Carolee!
      We are all in good company, here. It so great having you girls share an Art Gown with me.
      Haha, you call it a naughty bodice. I call it a clever bodice. Seems we are different, in alike ways.
      Can you believe the Art Gowns actually thought I would buy them a castle?
      Thank you so very much for being a part of this! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

      1. Carolee Croft

        It is both naughty and clever 😉 Definitely a bodice for the ages.
        Poor art gowns, I know how it feels to want to live in a castle yet be unable to do it… for the time being.
        I do hope you get them a castle one day, Resa. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  5. Just saw you email. OMG..I want that gown. My breath is on a pin at the back of my throat right now. That gown is just beyond belief. And thank you thank YOU for you many many kindnesses to me. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Dear Shehanne!
      You are welcome, and get that pin out of the back of your throat! You could swallow it, you know?
      It’s been a fun post, and we WILL do something else in the future!

  6. This gown is absolutely incredible. I love the fabric and style. the strip in the skirt makes if for me. It’s just perfect!! You have outdone yours die, if that’s possible. It’s gorgeous and so very creative. Congratulations Resa…another gift to all of us.

    1. It’s a very Zen creative space working on the Art Gowns. Yeah, I like the front swath of skirt, as well! As you know, being creative is very satisfying.
      Thank you for your kind words, and I’m so honoured you see it as a gift. Much love!

  7. Castle ready indeed, Resa. Romance, elegance, timeless beauty with a dash of sexiness – and bubble wrap!
    What a journey you’ve had with this one. From beginning to end, a twist here and a turn there – something not unlike a castle photographed by Inese, or an engaging novel written by Carolee and/or Shehanne.
    You’ve done yourself, and them, proud… just beautiful.

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment, Carolyn!
      Yes, this Art Gown is a lot of elements coming together: repurposing, up-cycling, using up unwanted fabric. She really is very modern, in an old fashioned way.
      It’s a lot of fun working with Inese, Shehanne and Carolee.

  8. The Contessa Fiori was not a woman to be taken for grated. Or worse – ignored. The castle may be a bit drafty but tonight the ballroom would be lit with the candles of a dozen crystal chandeliers. Her maagnificent gown would outshine all others. The decolletage would draw all eyes, but there was one man in particular she had in her sights.. Head high she made her entrance. The music played. The dance began. She was a success.

    1. Dear Virginia,
      I adore the way you always see a scene, a story with the Art Gowns. You enrich their beauty by giving them romantic and dramatic breath.
      I just love it! Thank you, very much my dear belocchio! XOXOXO

    1. YAY!!! I want to blow everyone away! Thank you for following Art Gowns. We have been following you, for awhile. You are now officially a cross-follower! 😀

  9. Wow Resa it came out beautifully! I love how you transformed the vest, included used bubble wrap (hello eco-friendly) and crafted a stunning gown. The flowers are a terrific touch on what is most definitely a castle-worthy piece! I would love to wear it and dance around a huge ballroom floor 🙂 Also so nice to see the fellow lovelies involved in this project. I hope Mini Me doesn’t sulk too long as she’s lovely too xo

    1. Eco-friendly, that’s the term I was looking for! As I have always made the Art Gowns from bargain bin fabrics and recycled/upcycled materials, The Art Gowns have always been eco-friendly to a point. Contessa Fiori is the zenith, at the moment.
      Thank you for your lovely words, Christy, you deserve a dance in an Art Gown! Mini Me is feeling a much better after your compliment. It must be difficult being muse to so many demanding Art Gowns! ❦❦xo

    1. Thank you, Cheyenne! I was very excited about the vest. Once I had over-dyed it, I could almost see the entire Art Gown. Your art is very gorgeous! Thank you!

  10. Oh no ! How inconsiderate of your favourite fabric store closing dear Resa ! Don’t they know who you are and how you create such beautiful gowns with their material ? The Internet will crash with so many “oh no’s”. Samantha is threatening to come over to Canada and pat them on the head 🙀😳
    Another wonderful art gown my friend.
    Love from all our family. Ralph xoxoxo ❤

  11. Pingback: Contessa Fiori: fabulous fashion and historical romance | Carolee Croft

  12. Contessa Fiori & Mini Me … both are really dazzling, … let the dance begin!
    Each new ArtGown surpasses the previous one in creativity, this is an impressive design, it’s so beautiful.
    In addition, (this is not so important but it matters) you have achieved a work of art through recycling, the budget is very small and the results are amazing.
    Congratulations dear friend, I am excited to see the dimension that your art reaches !!!
    Sending a lot of love and my sincere congratulations, I think it’s the best … or one of the best ArtGowns you’ve designed.
    Mini Me is beautiful with her attire for dancing

    1. My Dear Belén,
      Thank you very much. Yes, the Contessa is very eco-friendly, and for very little money.
      It is the time I put into the gowns that is more precious.
      I always think, “this is the best Art Gown I have designed”.
      I adore them all. I have 21 Art Gowns, now.
      Mystic Lake is a true beauty, just like you!
      Mini Me sends her love, and thanks you for the compliment. I have promised to make her a better gown next time. Mini Me is the Art Gowns’ muse. She is always complaining that the Art Gowns have better gowns. She is a very spoiled muse!!
      Sending Mucho besos y abrazos!

      1. You’re right, time is very difficult to value, it’s the most important thing.
        Muses, like time, are also very valuable, you can not always find one when you need it … they are like taxis 🙂
        Take care of MiniMe and tell Drake not to bother her at night with her trips to the fridge…
        Sending love for the whole family!!!

    1. Aww, thank you, lonely! My personal art is an odd one.
      The Contessa is also eco-friendly! I adore her, but then I adore all of my Art Gowns. I have 21, now. I’ll start 22 in January. She will be my pièce de résistance in the avant-garde category! Of course, as I hand stitch them all, it will be at least 3 months until she’s finished. ❦❦❦

        1. I really adore them all. I would say, the more recent they are, the better I have gotten at making them, and presenting them.
          Lady Anne is my fave older Art Gown, and Flora Blanca. I’ll stop now before I name all the older ones. Yikes, it’s a bit like picking a fave child!

  13. Absolutely amazing, dear Re ❤️🖤 fantastic gown, the silk and colors are a perfect match. Not to mention how well the shapes fit those textures. Thanks for telling us about the creation process leading to this gown too. And congrats and well deserved mention to this three awesome ladies. Excellent 🥀🥰 sending much love, across the miles. 😘

    1. Thank you dear Aq! Your comment is most appreciatively well read, and thought out.
      As alway, you are articulate, and …gorgeous… okay I broke the smart lode!!! 🧐😉🤣
      Love the comment and love you!
      Sending love back! From🇨🇦 to 🇦🇷

  14. They are both perfect and would look good in any castle. Although the castle would need to have lots of heating to keep them warm. 😉 I hope you can find another good source of fabric.

    1. TY, Gallivanta! Heating? Oh dear, the Art Gowns don’t know about that, yet. They are Canadian Art Gowns who think the best of the world.That means central heating.
      Well, if you don’t tell them, I won’t! ❤

  15. Resa. This is just, Sooooo beautiful… Oh what a bargain of material.. What a great find.. especially waiting for your hands to create this magnificent gown..
    So loved the story you weaved between and showing how the bodice was constructed.. The Castle images just lovely..
    Contessa- Fiori is a proud member to join the elite class to join the Ballroom in her dance.

    Sending LOVE and well wishes..
    Sue 😀

    1. Dear Sue,

      Thank you for you fab comet comment! The Contessa was a joy to build, and now does a Ballroom dance for you.
      Well, you know how much work goes into 1 of my girls, so I guess 4 months to the next one.
      Yay, after the holidays, I’ll be doing “Art Gowns Art” etc. updates.
      TY, for your visit, and so glad you got to see the Contessa! xo

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  17. OMG OMG OMG!! How have you managed to get SOOOO many talents all in one life, Resa? This gown just blew me away! Have you sold any that you have made? Are you making a name for yourself, a name VERY well deserved? I am stunned just stunned by what I just viewed. What an incredible woman you are! BRAVA!!!!!!

    1. Amy! LOL, and omg to you, too! Your new Gravitar pic is sensational.
      It really says lots about what you love doing. I hope you do not replace this with a beautiful flower any time soon. You look, too, good.
      Yes, my Art Gowns mean a lot to me. I think they are my main talent. Thank you for your enthusiasm & support!
      Sending hugs and love! xoxoxo
      Resa (will be by tomorrow! xo)

      1. Hubby took that picture, Resa. That one is a keeper, promise! As for those gowns the hours of labor you put into each one boggles my mind. My Mom sewed and taught me how so I have a good idea what it takes to do something on the magnitude that you are doing. I tell you true, I could not do it. Nope. Sending HUGS right back at ya! 💞💞💞

  18. Sorry that I am late to the party, this is really worth the wait though. You are so talented and that gown would certainly fit perfectly in any fancy castle or palace that it graced.

    1. Charlotte!
      I’m so happy you love the gown, and I think you’re right about it looking fab on stage. Not everyone gets to sit close, and I find overblown/overstated designs hold the look right to the patrons at the back of the theatre.
      The mirrors were not a problem, as they do not absorb the dye. The crazy thing is; this is a vintage vest, and they used real mirror back when. I have reason to go to little India for work, once in awhile. The quality of the traditional sarees, etc. is not what it used to be. The mirrors are now like a mylar. Although the mylar would not absorb the dye, it would become clouded.
      I had a wonderful Christmas, and I know you did.
      It’s the first day of 2019 as I write this. I wish you a very happy year ahead with much joy and success. xx 🥰❦

    1. Thank you! Hope all is well in book land! I was very moved to see my Pupkin reading a book! I’ll reblog it on my writing blog, as soon as I get back to it!

  19. So awesome to see another of your creations Resa, missed you. This is another stunning piece of art – your gowns are exquisite. Love this and the story, they blend perfectly. The back and bustle are amazing when looking closely at the detailing and how it flows outward. Wonderful work – Happy New Year!

    1. Oh, I am so happy you got to see this Art Gown.
      I’ve decided to do art renderings of all my Art Gowns, in retrospect. I hope you will like those, too!
      I missed you, and hope to see more of your and your fabulous art in the coming year! ❦

    1. Aww! Love and hugs back to you! xoxoxoxo
      One day, I will be rendering Cecilia Lionheart. I’m hoping you will allow me to use you for the muse/model? xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

        1. Okay! So, you & Cecilia will be 3. I’ve got Ballroom Lux, then O Royal Treasure, then Cecilia!
          Depending on my drawing moods, that could be sooner or later. Love to you & Hera! xxxxxxxxxx

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