One of my most treasured possessions has to be my Nan's 1940's wedding dress. Marrying my Grandad in the early years of the second World War, she had to beg, borrow and make do and mend to put together her wedding ensemble, but this did not mean she had to marry in a dress that was anything less than stunning!
In my eyes, her dress is still one of the most beautiful I have ever seen and whilst very much of it's time, it could still be worn today (by someone exceptionally tiny!) if styled correctly.
The dress hangs on my studio wall and provides me with inspiration as well as being a physical link to my Nan, who died so long ago that her image has nearly faded entirely from my mind. But the dress and the photograph of my Grandparents outside St Mary's Church in Walthamstow where they married, keep her very much alive for me.
I don't know the story of her dress, whether she designed it and had it made or bought it from another recent bride. It was fairly new at the time, as can be seen by the style which is typical of this era. It's very similar to the one shown below, designed by Edith Head for Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve (1941). Many brides would have been inspired by fashion from films as they would have been one of the primary fashion influencers of the time.
Her satin Mary Janes, which I also still treasure were already nearly twenty years old on her wedding day. Although in good condition, they're stained and aged but no less loved by me.
I've refenced many of the design details from this dress in my own designs and I especially love the sleeve head pleating, which I copied and developed to use on the Bianca wrap dress. Just about everyone who tries it on, says how much they love the sleeve!
My Nan, Gladys was such a wonderful and inspirational lady! She drove ambulances in the blackout in the East End of London during the war and spent her working life caring for the elderly. To me, she is an incredible role model and that's why her dress is so important to me. It is a treasured heirloom that tells the story not just of the time but also her story and her love for my Grandad, William.
If I were to marry, I would copy my Nan's beautiful dress in an updated version for myself as for me, it's just about perfection and I know this would make her very happy wherever she is now!
A wedding dress should be about more than just one day! It should stand the test of time, be treasured and loved by it's bride and then be passed on to the daughters and granddaughters that follow. There's nothing so soullless, in my mind as the mass produced and cheap unflattering wedding dresses that seem to end up in the windows of charity shops. So much money can be spent on this one day, the dress is the lasting momento of what can be one of the most magical days of our lives.