Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Putting two and two together.

There is a photo on my grandfather's wardrobe, a black and white photo of a tall lanky young man leading a shorter woman who's gloved hand rests in the crook of his elbow. She is a short dumpy curvaceous young woman dressed in white and carrying a big bouquet of what look to be equally white flowers. The solemnity of the occasion is born out by the expressions of the young couple, neither one smiling or looking particularly happy at the thought of their future together.

This belies the true romance of the relationship with my grandfather bridging class divides before following his young love to Perth from Alexandria, Egypt. Once here, he was obliged to support his mother and younger brother before he was in a financial position to offer his young bride a home and future together. What is perhaps saddest is that in spite of all the obstacles they faced to be together, they were only married for 10 years before she passed away from breast cancer.

While I am intrigued by the romantic story of their love, as I am with any of my grandfather's stories, on this occasion I am more interested in the odd familiarity of the bride's outfit. It is a photo I have seen before, glancing up at it on almost every occasion in which I enter my grandfather's bedroom, and I recognise the hat worn by the bride. It is a horned cloche of soft white feathers, now spotted with the occasional black feather and currently residing in the depths of the wardrobe, wrapped in cloth and protected from the other headgear crammed into the same box.

What I did not expect to recognise was the dress. Having raided my grandfather's wardrobes and wealth of stories, I knew what dresses had survived and alternatively which dresses had not. However upon a more recent examination of the photo, I realised that I recognised the fabric. In fact I had my own photos of that exact fabric from another gown in my grandmother's collection, a delicate cream satin embroidered throughout with leaves picked out in gold thread. Its foolish really, because I had only recently done a talk on the sensibility of re-wearing one's wedding dress or altering it so that it became more versatile to the social activities of the bride's life. I had just failed to apply this logic to my sensible and very stylish grandmother.

 This superb fabric is in the shape of a figure hugging evening dress with a wide halter-neck strap and the weightiest bustle I had ever come across. Sewn flat across the bottom was an enormous bow and mini train completely lined with cream satin. On the top of the hips there are a few small darts emphasising the shapely curve of my grandmother's figure and a quaint lapel along the line of the d├ęcolletage  This new dress appeared in one photo from her life, before disappearing into the back of a wardrobe to reappear 50 years later in photos of her grandchildren.  The dress is now fraying under one arm and there is a slight stain on the front, but it is impossible not to appreciate in turn the beauty of the article and the style for which our grandmother was renowned.


1 comment:

  1. It is a lovely dress and fabric in real life (and when one is photoshopping it!). And her alteration of it is marvelous :)

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