In 1908, the Italian seamstress, political activist and writer Rosa Genoni (1864-1954) designed a dress inspired by the Tanagra statuettes. This dress became one of the most important re-interpretations and re-castings of women’s fashion in classical antiquity. The late nineteenth century discovery of the Greek statuettes that she most likely was able to admire at the Louvre Museum sparked not only Genoni’s imagination, but most importantly also contributed to a rethinking of the relationship between dress, gender, identity and performance in public and social spaces. Rosa Genoni first designed the dress for herself and then in another version with a different fabric and accessories for the well-known diva Lyda Borelli, who became a testimonial for the new design. Genoni wore a more casual version of the Tanagra dress when she delivered a speech on fashion and feminism at the First Italian Congress of Women in Rome in April 1908. The Tanagra dress became the embodiment of her ideas of femininity and agency but also established a line of continuity with the past. The reframing of the past engendered new models of femininity and beauty intimately connected to the intellectual and political spheres.

This is the topic of the lecture “Rosa Genoni’s Tanagra Dress Reframed: A Story of Fashion, Performance, Feminism” by Eugenia Paulicelli, a scholar of Rosa Genoni.  The lecture will recount this story, as well as the contemporary re-framing of Genoni’s Tanagra dress that has brought it to life and with it has illustrated a process of history in the making.

The lecture on Genoni will be delivered on March 21st, 2024, at the “Michael C. Carlos Museum,” Emory University, in Atlanta and in conjunction with the exhibition, Recasting Antiquity: Whistler, Tanagra, and the Female Form

See the CUNY TV’s “Urban U” September 2023 episode below that featured her work.


Please see below the Capstone thesis on the Tanagra dress by Christina Trupiano for her MA in Fashion Studies/Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) at the CUNY Graduate Center (Spring 2024) and directed by Eugenia Paulicelli.

Tanagra Dress Reimagined

Figure 1: A terracotta statuette, also known as a Tanagra, was the inspiration for Rosa Genoni’s Tanagra Dress Design. This image was taken from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Website and is a photo of the Terracotta Draped Woman from the 3rd Century BCE.
Figure 2: Lydia Borelli seen in profile and hat with feather, Per una Moda italiana, 1909. This was the image that I used to dissect the design and construction of the historical garment for the purpose of my recreation.
Figure 3: Image of the recreated Tanagra Dress on a mannequin at The Fabric of Cultures exhibition. 2017. Garment was draped and flat patterned by myself and then cut and sewn by Zoila Cruz’s sample room in the Garment District, NYC.

Process of the Tanagra Dress Reimagining

Figure 5: Although I tried draping on the dress forms, it wasn’t until I draped on my own body that I was able to decide on the way the garment would need to be constructed to most accurately represent the functionality of Rosa Genoni’s Tanagra Dress.

Tanagra on Display

Figure 6: The Tanagra Dress on display at the Fabric of Cultures Exhibition at Queens College in 2017. The exhibition had many fashion-focal points, however one of the important elements of these exhibitions is to link cultural heritage throughout the pedagogical elements. In line with the Made in Italy research heavily studied by Eugenia Paulicelli, the Tanagra dress would be on display in the center of the gallery commemorating the 150th anniversary of Rosa Genoni’s birth.

Tanagra in Motion

Figure:7 The film, entitled Motion in Dress: The Tanagra Dress Reframed displays the dress in action. The models can be seen walking in the dress up and down the stairs, through hallways and sitting, all while displaying the folds and drapes of the dress moving and flowing around the wearer. There are several points of dialogue between myself and Professor Paulicelli as I remove the brooches and place them in different ways to show the dynamic nature of the dress.

The Technical Design of the New Tanagra Dress

Figure 8: Technical Sketch, also known as a CAD in the garment industry, used to guide all makers in the process of creating the garment accurately. This CAD was created using Adobe Illustrator.

Figure 9: Photo of a pattern created by Rosa Genoni modeled after the Statue of the Victory of Samotracia. As patternmaker I was intrigued by this image and was excited to create one for the Tanagra Dress. Photo taken from Eugneia Paulicelli’s book ,Fashion is a Serious Business courtesy of Robert B Haas Family Arts, Library, yale University New Haven.


Figure 10: The 2D digital Pattern of the recreated Tanagra Dress Wrap. Pattern file was created using Gerber Accumark V15 Pattern Design Software application.

Tanagra in 3D

Figure 11: Video is of a 3D rendering recorded on a turntable style, created using CLO 3D Software. This 3D render is an exact digital replica of the physical Tanagra sample that was created for The Fabric of Cultures Exhibition in 2017.

3D Tanagra Reimagining Continued

Figure 12,13, 14, and 15 : To continue the reimagining process, feasible and environmentally sound, the Tanagra dress was rendered using CLO 3D several times, to utilize new fabrications and prints, and to add a unique perspective to the existing design. From standard to unusual elements, playing with proportion and space, organic vs. the abstract, and floral vs. modern, the viewer can appreciate the overall design elements of the Tanagra Dress’s dynamic nature, both in wearability and in visual effect.

Figure: 12 Tanagra Dress in black lace and charmeuse
Figure:13 Tanagra Dress in floral all-over print.
Figure 14: Tanagra Dress in abstract dot, all over print.
Figure 15: Tanagra Dress in purple snakeskin printed leather


Figure: 1, Terracotta Statuette-“Terracotta Draped Woman: Greek, Boeotian: Hellenistic.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/247882. Accessed 19 Dec. 2023.

Figure: 2, Lydia Borelli -Radiogold. “Donne Nella Grande Guerra: Il Caso Di Rosa Genoni, Sarta per La Pace.” RadioGold.It, 6 Mar. 2015, radiogold.it/news-alessandria/eventi/24057-donne-grande-guerra-caso-rosa-genoni-sarta-pace/.

Figure: 3, Tanagra Dress on Mannequinn -“Tanagra.” Home -, thefabricofcultures.com/foc-object/tanagra/. Accessed 19 Dec. 2023.

Figure: 4.1: Trupiano, Christina. Photograph of Drape on Mini Scale Form. 3 June 2017. Authors Personal Collection

Figure: 4.2, Trupiano, Christina. Photograph of Two Forms for Scale. 19 November 2023. Authors Personal Collection

Figure: 4.3, Trupiano, Christina. Photograph Self Draping Restaged. 19 November 2023. Authors Personal Collection

Figure:6, 13, I. I. (October. “The Art of Making & the Made in Italy.” iItaly.Org, www.iitaly.org/magazine/focus/art-culture/article/art-making-made-in-italy.Accessed 19 Dec. 2023.

Figure: 7, “Dress in Motion The Tanagra Dress Reframed.” YouTube, 17 July 2023, https://youtu.be/x84p945neYg?si=gtPd9djsVw71Qtg7. Accessed 19 Dec. 2023.

Figure 8, Technical CAD of Tanagra Dress Created on Adobe Illustrator. 11 November 2023.

Figure: 9, Pattern photo inspired by the Statue of Samotracia, Paulicelli, Eugenia. Rosa Genoni. Fashion Is a Serious Business. Milan Expo 1906 and the Great War. Milan, Deleyva, 2015.  

Figure:10, Digital Pattern of Tanagra Dress Wrap created on Gerber Accumark V15. 7 November 2023.

Figure: 11, CLO 3D turntable view, Trupiano, Christina. “Tanagra in 3d.” Vimeo Interactive Video Experience Platform, vimeo.com/894647946?share=copy. Accessed 15 Dec. 2023.

Figure:13,14 and 15, CLO 3D Renders of Tanagra Dress, created on CLO 3D. 14 December 2023.