Creating the Perfect Princess Prom Dress

 A few months ago a friend of mine asked me whether I would make a prom dress for her daughter.  All the pastel, strapless ‘princess’ dresses didn’t appeal to her, wouldn’t suit her and, as a girl with style, she wanted something that was ‘anything but ordinary’.  This blog is her story of her perfect princess prom dress.

Prom. Four letters, three consonants, one vowel.

One word that for the last year of secondary school is all that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue- ready to be planned pondered and panicked over from as soon as the year begins all the way up until the big day itself.

For the female half of the school year, the main talking point was of course the prom dress. As soon as the term had started, a Facebook group was set up ensuring that no one committed the ‘unthinkable’ faux par of having the same dress, and any lull in conversation would be filled with the same question: “Have you got your prom dress yet?”

I always had to answer no to this question, because despite numerous searches in shops and online, I had found nothing that I liked or more importantly would be comfortable wearing. I could find nothing that I felt suited me or was in a colour or style that I liked. Everything was strapless, sleeveless and short. Everything I didn’t want!

Mum however, had a solution or at least an idea for one, which led to a quiet afternoon being spent at the lovely studio of Wendy Harrup. I then haphazardly tried to explain what I was looking for in my ideal prom dress. I got as far as something historic themed, maybe a little like the Disney princess Elsa from the recent movie Frozen, but most of all must have sleeves and a long skirt.

Despite my horrifically vague instructions, Wendy enthusiastically helped me pick out fabrics and after a couple more fittings – in which I had to do a lot of getting used to  breathing with a corset on, and work out how to walk while simultaneously trying to keep the hundreds of pins in place.

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I had never been to a dress fitting before, let alone had a dress made for me. I needn’t have worried about any of it though, because Wendy was always supportive and ready to answer any number of silly questions, as well as also always keeping us informed about the progress of the dress.

With prom just a week away, we arrived after only seeing small parts of the dress to then be completely astounded by the final product. It was everything I had dreamed of, and everything that I could never have imagined. I loved the colour, and the design.

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Prom came around and my love for the final product Wendy so masterfully created was echoed by every
one else at prom. The rest of the prom-goers were even more astounded when, after being asked where I got it from, I could proudly say that it was handmade. And that I had helped design it!

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I had a wonderful time at prom, and I think a large part of that is down to the wonderful dress Wendy made for me. The dress looked amazing, was certainly different enough to cause a stir, and didn’t make me feel self-conscious at all.

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As well as this, the durability of my ‘prom dress’ was shown the following weekend, as the corset part of my dress worked just as well over shorts on a hot summer’s birthday party as it did over a long ball gown skirt.

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I cannot say enough thank yous to Wendy for all her amazing work, her welcoming atmosphere and her willingness to go along with what must have at first seemed to be a far-fetched and very vague idea. I will never forget my prom, and will definitely be wearing my dress again, even if it separated into different parts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rainbow Wedding

How best to dress eight adult bridesmaids who look best in different styles and tones?

As a rainbow of course!

Wendy made the purple dress, 4th from left.

Wendy made the purple dress, 4th from left.

We used the same fabric for each outfit and linked them all together by using golden satin as a highlight on each, in the form of cummerbunds for the jumpsuits and elegant shrugs or wraps for the dresses.

As there were so many dresses to make, the work was divided amongst a number of dressmakers – I made the purple dress, fourth from left.

Contemporary colour

Tessa wanted a contemporary, colourful wedding gown for her special day.

Together, we designed a delicate wedding dress in jade green silk, with a chiffon overlay in a very pale green.  Inspired by the design of her favourite necklace, I hand-embroidered the bodice with silver thread and crystals.

In order to create a magical ‘reveal’, Tessa chose to wear a silver silk cloak over her dress.  The fastener tab cleverly concealed the embroidery on her bodice until she removed the cloak during the service.

The cloak was cut to a classical shape, carefully draped to create a ‘hood’ at the back which I decorated with a piece of Chinese knotwork.  The same crystals and silver thread which I used to embellish the dress bodice were scattered over the cloak to discreet effect.

J’adore Dior

Dior-inspired 1950s style wedding dress in silk dupion

Dior-inspired 1950s style wedding dress in silk dupion

Christian Dior is one of my key design influences and I have always admired the cut and detail of his work, and that of his successors at the House of Dior.  The work of so many skilled individuals goes into each couture piece, as this brilliant film shows.  Don’t look away… you might miss something…

The pirate bride

Rebecca really fancied the pirate look for her special day. Inspired by 18th century costume design in creating the overall look, I gave it a fantastical and contemporary twist in its styling.

Here is Rebecca at her final try-on. She wears a cutaway skirt over breeches, so she can show a saucy bit of ankle. We added red rosettes to her shoes to help bring the whole outfit together. Again, the chains are her own, we just attached them to the jacket. Luckily she loved the dress so much and happily played around for the camera!

I designed and made a dress for Rebecca’s bridesmaid that matched the pirate theme.

Audene’s dream wedding suit

The dream wedding suit

The dream wedding suit

Aurdene knew exactly what he wanted to wear for his wedding to Connie – this was it – he looks amazing.
He is wearing a silk habotai shirt with chiffon cuffs, silk dupion split fall breeches, silk dupion 17th century waistcoat with lace covered pocket flaps and lacing at the back (instead of a buckle) and a silk dupion 17th century coat with lace covered cuffs, lace covered pocket flaps, lace edging and nearly 40 diamante buttons!