The bodice is fully supported with canvas interlining and steel boning. The gown is also worn over a corset and camicia, as well as a taffeta underskirt. The front insert is made from a small piece of silk brocade - a scrap - that I inherited. The bodice is hand beaded, and I also made a new girdle / belt and a linen partlet. The sleeves are re-used from my last Venetian gown because I love them and they match!
I made this one regular height - no chopines for me! I love my chopines, but man, I'm too clutzy to stand around in them all day!
More photos here: http://www.faerie-queen.com/purple-silk-venetian-gown/