Re-styled Vintage Bridal Gown
Ailsa’s Bridal Gown
Ailsa Page came to see me about her wedding gown, but not just any gown. She wanted to repurpose her mother’s beautiful vintage lace wedding gown to wear as her own!
Ailsa came to see me in July 2018 to help her re-style her mother’s wedding gown. Her mother Margaret married in January 1964 in a beautiful lace gown in Mt Gambier purchased in Adelaide by John Clair and Co. The gown was made through United Fashions who were the makers of ‘Marsh Mayne model gowns’ located in Brisbane.
It was beautifully preserved in its delivery box with all the mementos, bridal charms and veil from the wedding day.
We both marveled at how timeless the design was; both traditional and contemporary. It was made from an imported European lace with a boat neckline, floor length skirt, long fitted sleeves with Rouleau loops and buttons and a sweeping lace train bound with satin edging. It was still so fresh and appealing with delicate workmanship throughout.
Ailsa and I discussed how it was to be redesigned to feature all its feminine aspects whilst redesigning it to fit her physique which was quite different from her mother’s. Ailsa’s thoughts were that she wanted to celebrate the past and the joy of her mother’s wedding with fun and humor, to match her own joy and enthusiasm. Her wedding was to take place in beautiful Sicily surrounded by the family and friends of her husband to be Phil.
After discussing the merits of the gown and the location of the upcoming wedding I proceeded to fit Ailsa in her mother’s gown. This is when we had a giggle! Ailsa’s mother had been a much bigger woman physically than Ailsa and the dress fit was obviously too big! But this is where the redesigning and repurposing began. Refitting the bodice and skirt to Ailsa’s shape was the first step. Then came the redesigning of the sleeves to suit the warmer climate of Sicily. We trimmed off at the elbow for ease of movement and detailed the edges with the lace flowers from the longer sleeves. The skirt was also shortened to show the bright red shoes that Ailsa had chosen to give her ensemble a sense of fun! After much pinning it was decided that the most flattering length for Ailsa was just below the knee at the front and we kept the sweeping train at the back giving it both a modern look from the front and a more traditional touch from the back. As we had to trim off the original satin bind that finished the hem it was also detailed with delicate flowers from the off cuts of the lace. With some left-over lace flowers, I also made a small head piece to complement the look.
Knowing that Ailsa was wearing her mother’s wedding gown brought a great deal happiness to relatives on both Ailsa and Phil’s family. In particular, Ailsa’s father Keith was delighted that the gown could be worn again. Margaret was also thrilled that the gown was worn again and was supportive of the modifications and communicated to Ailsa how happy she was “that you were able to make the dress your own”. She was very encouraging of the red shoes and insisted that Ailsa gets hers nails done to match. Many of the wedding attendees described the dress as classically vintage and so “Ailsa”. There was much discussion and then delight when they heard the story. For Ailsa herself being able to clearly make a decision on what dress to wear was highly gratifying and to know that it would be unique containing in it a unique story was also appealing.
I love my job!