So, You Want a Vintage Wedding?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get married in a gown like the ones they wore in the old Hollywood movies? The vintage look is quite a popular one but if you don’t know the fundamentals then it’s easy to get it wrong. That’s why seeking out a dressmaker who specialises in that vintage look is a worthwhile venture.
Annie & Dolly
Annie and Dolly met in high school. When the yes vote was passed, Annie said yes to marrying Dolly. Annie had a vision of the kind of dress she wanted to wear on her wedding day and with both being swing dancers this was to be no ordinary dress. After weeks of trawling through bridal boutiques Annie knew her gown was not going to be found on a dress rack.
Divine Vintage Dresses
Divine Vintage Dresses is located in the beautiful Strathbogie Shire, just under two hours’ drive from Melbourne. They have a purpose-built studio located at the rear of their home in Longwood where they work and consult with their customers.
Annie contacted Karen Mizzi, the designer and creator of Divine Vintage Dresses, to see if it was possible to make her dream a reality. “The moment I met Annie and her family there was an instant connection. I knew exactly what she wanted and exactly how to achieve it.” says Karen.
Divine Vintage Dresses specialise in both authentic and recreated vintage wedding gowns and formal wear. Karen is more than a dressmaker; her business is solely focussed on recreating that ‘je ne sais quoi’ of vintage style. Something that just can’t simply be bought off the rack.
During Annie’s first meeting at Longwood she enjoyed a cup of tea and a chat in the warm sunshine in the garden by the studio. This is where Karen makes lots of mental notes about how you envision your gown. She’ll take your measurements and you’ll discuss fabric choices and colours, complete with samples to look at. From this one visit, the next time you see Karen she’ll have sketched several designs for you to look at and also have a toile ready for you to try on.
A toile is an early version of the finished garment made up in plain cotton so that the design can be tested and perfected for your body.
Karen says: “good quality fabrics are difficult to find in Australia, which is why all of our fabrics are sourced from overseas”. Divine Vintage Dresses do two overseas buying trips per year looking specifically for beautiful and unique laces and silks. What else is unique about the fabric they purchase is the quantity. Only enough fabric to make one wedding gown is sourced, which means when you have a gown made by Divine Vintage Dresses you are guaranteed that no one else will have one like it.
Being that Annie’s wedding gown needed to be fit for dancing it was important to establish the era the gown would be recreated from. Swing dancing was a popular pastime of the forties and fifties. A fifties dress requires a large amount of fabric accompanied by a large petticoat that stands straight out when you twirl on the dance floor.
Annie certainly knew what style of dress she liked and how long she wanted it to be. “Annie required a tea length gown”. Tea length is not a term we commonly use to describe a hem length these days but it refers to a length that sits midway below the knees and above your ankles.
The skirt alone on Annie’s dress had 3 layers of fabric. Each layer was four and a half metres long, all lovingly gathered by Karen’s hand to fit perfectly around Annie’s waist.
Annie’s gown was made from ivory silk, with a silk chiffon overlay and satin lining. There was hand-stitched lace along the boat neckline and a quintessentially fifties cowl back.
As soon as Annie realised that she wasn’t going to be able to find the bridesmaids dresses she wanted online she turned to Karen to see if these could also be made in time for the wedding. With only four weeks to go and four bridesmaids there was absolutely no time to lose. No pressure!
The beautiful bridesmaids wore rust silk dupion with navy floral silk waist sashes. Their skirts also consisted of four metres of hand-gathered fabric. Each bridesmaids dress was designed specifically to suit them, and the effect was stunning.
No vintage wedding would be complete without the proper accessories. As a gift from Divine Vintage Dresses to Annie and Dolly each of the bridesmaids was given a pair of authentic mid-century gloves. The effect was perfect.
One Last Surprise
Stitched into the lining of Annie’s skirt was a vintage blue appliquéd flower. In keeping partly with tradition, she now had ‘something old, something new and something blue’.