Fairy tales can come true!
Updated: Apr 2
This post was written by my very impressive friend, Eva Hamilton.
One of my all time favourite commissions, Eva describes her wedding day and the special dress we created together.
"As a young child there were only a few things that I knew with absolute certainty:
I was actually secretly a princess, abducted by these ‘parents’ but actually rightful heir to a far-away throne.
That I would one day be a princess marrying a prince
I would be the most beautiful bride that ever existed, wearing a giant, puffy ball-gown.
These ‘truths’ did not take into account any of the realities of my life: that I looked like a perfect mix of my parents (so much so that people frequently comment), that being in the royal family of any country would be hard work under constant scrutiny, and that puffy ball gowns do not flatter me and never will. But these mundane trivialities seemed irrelevant to a young girl in the early 1990s, who wanted the fussy layers of tulle and netting, the ridiculously long train, the tiara.
When I was 9, I tried on my mother’s wedding dress, and it was a little bit too small. Despite the undone zip, I remember looking in the mirror and feeling like that mythical princess that I had always wanted to be, and boldly proclaiming at dinner that night that I would get married in THAT dress. I didn’t know that it had been my grandmother’s wedding dress and had lived through iterations as a cocktail dress after the original high neck, long sleeves and train were removed. Nor did I know that my mother had the dress taken in to fit her tiny size 4 frame when she married my father in 1976 in Nairobi, and that she wore the dress because she had always loved its colour. To me it was just a gown that made me feel beautiful.
As I grew older, taller, and larger in every dimension, mum’s wedding dress continued to be my dream wedding dress. I didn’t have the perfect groom (or even a boyfriend!), but that didn’t stop me wondering what shoes would suit the champagne silk skirt. When I did meet the right man, and he gallantly proposed - it was a Friday night, I was on the sofa in pyjamas, and, it turned out, was slightly spur-of-the-moment - I knew that I would need a lot of help to turn a dress cut for a 22 year old, size 4, 5’9 woman into something to flatter a 32 year old, size 22, 6’2 me. Never mind mum’s concerns about her beloved gown!
Carol was the perfect answer. She had met my mother on the lake in Zurich and they had become friends. Who else would you trust with a unique family heirloom that is entirely un-matcheable, un-reproduceable and delicate but a bespoke tailor? We met several times over the coming months to discuss how to transform the gown, both in Bath at my home and in London at her sun-filled studio, and she valiantly took on the pastiche of ideas that emerged: a dress that was somehow still a white wedding dress, but using as much as possible of the original champagne silk and embroidery as possible, that was long enough for my height, incorporated my love of Fortuny/ Miyake pleats, and flattered my shape. The result, which I tried on in its complete form only a few days before my July 2017 wedding, was better than I could have hoped.
I look back on my wedding photos now, a year and a half after the event, and I see a woman radiating happiness. Yes, part of that can be attributed to the getting married bit, but the dress made the day perfect. It swished and draped and did everything that gloriously made clothes are supposed to do: they made the (wo)man. It took the talents of a master tailor to create my childhood dream, working with me at every stage. It wasn’t a giant puffball, it didn’t have a 20-meter train, and I didn’t wear a tiara. The truth is I wasn’t a princess; I was a queen.
P.S. For the record, my now-husband wore a Hugo Boss dinner suit, and also looked very stylish".
Photographs by Chris at www.crescent-photography.com