Rachel is back this month with more gorgeous dresses, and more gorgeous writing about why she loves them. I think it’s pretty rare to find someone with such passion about what they do, and I love that Rachel is here sharing that with us.
It seems like years ago now that I was choosing my wedding dress, but I remember at the time there being very few places where you could buy vintage wedding dresses, so I think Rachel has got a real niche here. Also? Any one want to go and bury their faces in some of these dresses? SO. PRETTY.
My last post was basically me gushing over the gorgeous ‘designed and handmade in Wales’ dresses I have in the boutique. This month, there is no less gushing, but I’ve chosen to focus on the other side of the boutique which is just as important – vintage.
I’d always swooned over my mamgu’s (Welsh for grandmother) 1940s dresses and furs that she had in these huge dark oak wardrobes. Whenever I used to stay with her I always opened the wardrobes to take a peek. The smell always hit me. But it was a welcoming smell, a smell that oozed happy times. I remember dressing up in a particular 1940′s black and white dress (something not too dissimilar to the waltz dresses on Strictly Come Dancing) and walking up and down the stairs watching the material flow on the stairs behind me. I think this is where my passion for vintage dresses came from. They were so loved. Having a ‘special occasion dress’ was a big deal then – not like today, when we can pop out and buy several at a time. And I love how women used to show off a figure beautifully – without getting their boobs out all the time! Less is more!
I have a wide selection of vintage dresses in the boutique, in different styles and from different eras. They vary from an aged white all the way through to a soft lemon / champagne. I love the idea that my girls (as I call them!) have their own personalities and I choose their names to represent that. It goes as far as who hangs next to who – for example, Nancy and Morgan never hang next to each other – they are very different ladies! Ridiculous I know, but it makes me smile. I say ‘good morning’ to my girls every day and I make myself chuckle as I imagine them waving back at me.
I like to think of stories for my girls as well, especially those I got in New York earlier this year – it felt only appropriate that I call them, Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. Carrie is actually the oldest dress I have in the boutique – an original from the 1930′s. She is absolutely tiny – but I know each dress has a bride and I can’t wait to meet them!
I have one dress, Morgan’ which I have decided was worn on a date with Frank Sinatra. I imagine the lady had dark hair and glasses, and wore it up for her date to show off her long neck. I can imagine her walking into the restaurant with a little black clutch bag, wrist length gloves and matching black T-Bar shoes and everyone looking and saying ‘wow’ to themselves.
One dress came with its original handmade blue garter from the 50′s. Even though the bride was unlikely to wear it, it was still important for those items to stay together, so the story can keep being passed on. And these dresses have such a story to tell – I love that each bride who wears a vintage dress is starting a new chapter in that dress’s life, like the Cardiff bride who took her vintage dress all the way to California to get married!
We can change and customise these vintage dresses to each bride’s needs (we’ve even chopped one in half!) but that’s the lovely thing – the brides can start to ‘own’ them and give the dresses a new lease of life. I also think of this as a form of ‘upcycling’ which can only be a good thing. Alterations wise we only need a few weeks to make changes, which is perfect for the short term engagement.
Personally, I love 1950s dresses, especially those with long sleeves – there is something so classy but fun about them. And I love playing around and adding a little 50s style veil with them too. Other vintage dresses can be completely transformed and updated by adding an underskirt or a coloured sash for example.
I am very attached to my vintage girls and get very emotional when I say goodbye to one of them while wishing it a happy wedding day – and I’m sure they all smile back at me as they leave the boutique. And now you know what a sentimental fool I am!
*All images by Simon Gough Photography