fashioning a wedding dress

1
TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010 C1 TIMES COLONIST,VICTORIA, B.C. O n Aug. 4, 1909, in Collingwood, Ont., a young Mary Constance Guil- foyle beamed for the cam- era with her groom, John Patrick McLaughlin, and their wedding party beside them. The broad-brimmed, flower-laden hats of the bridesmaids and tailored men’s suits made for a typi- cal Edwardian vignette. But it was the bride’s dress, custom-made with fine imported French lace, that would create a bond spanning generations of the newlyweds’ descendants. “It’s amazing that it has lasted and fit so many of us,” Kay Begley said. She is the McLaughlins’ grand- daughter and unofficial keeper of the dress that has since been worn nine times by family members, includ- ing herself. “I got it from my mother and now it’s become a passion to keep it in the family.” Incorporating a family heirloom into wedding dress attire is tradition, a talisman of luck in love. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. But pre- serving a dress over a cen- tury is nearly impossible. Which is why Begley brought her bride-to-be daughter Tessa and the dress to Alida Lloyd last year to be restored. Tessa’s wedding took place 100 years almost to the day after her great-grand- mother wore the dress for the first time. “It was not in the best shape. There were yellow spots and the lace was frail,” said Lloyd, who designs and makes custom- wedding dresses and attire at Alida’s Gowns in Sidney. “It’s not uncommon for someone to want to wear a dress that has been passed down. Usually, the adjust- ments make it fit perfectly and less matronly than some of the older styles. But this dress was a chal- lenge and had a very inter- esting history.” After 1909, the dress was not worn again until 1943, by Begley’s aunt Mary McLaughlin. Her own mother did not wear the dress for her wedding — a brown suit at Toronto city hall during wartime seemed more appropriate for the times. There is a photo of her mother’s sister, Dorothea, wearing the dress on her wedding day in 1946. The simplified undergarment worn beneath the panelled lace sheath made it look entirely different from the trailing lace gown of 1909. Begley’s sister Anne Sirdevan wore the dress in 1971, when she had to be sewn into it. Begley wore the dress for her own wed- ding in 1973. It was flown to Glasgow to be worn by her cousin Denise Jones in 1975, then to another cousin in France in 1978. In 1989, Begley’s younger brother Joseph Sirdevan’s bride Marie wore the dress at their wedding in Toronto. “When Alida saw the dress she said she’d have to take it apart to save it,” said Begley, who divides her time between Pender Island and Vancouver, where she works as an accountant. “I knew I might get flak from the family, but the alterna- tive was that we’d never get to see it worn again.” Lloyd followed the tradi- tion of using the lace dress as an overlay, creating a Scarlett O’Hara shape to flatter Tessa Begley’s fig- ure. The original panels of the dress were combined with flounces and rosettes to give it a tiered look. “She looked incredible,” said her mother, who gave a speech about the dress at the wedding. She said there are several great-grand- daughters and four great- great-granddaughters, including Tessa’s two-month- old baby, Magdalen, who might be interested in wear- ing it one day. “Taking care of the dress has become very important to me.” Lloyd, a master seam- stress, designs her gowns made-to-measure, using pri- marily silk and fine fabrics with hand-sewn embellish- ments. Her dresses range from $2,500 to $5,000. “Every dress is guaran- teed to fit perfectly. It is true haute couture,” she said. Word has spread since she started her business four years ago — it was a dream project she vowed to fulfil after her first husband died. She now averages one dress per week and has outfitted entire wedding parties. “My favourite are the wedding dresses. They are special.” Lloyd follows the latest trends in wedding dresses. “Already fashionable women will seek out some- one like me to custom-make their dress,” she said, adding that women with hard-to-fit body types might also prefer a custom dress. She designs and makes sample dresses for display, ranging from the classic to the fashion-forward. Lloyd says there are a few new trends dominating. One is to embellish wildly. “Heavily rosed skirts are popular right now. The trend is to have a lot of loose, unfinished, big organza roses all over,” she said. Just stay away from the heavy beading and jewels. Bustiers and French lace are making a comeback, reflecting the current trend in streetwear. “The corset is very in right now,” Lloyd said. Diagonal and plunging necklines are also a popular alternative to the popular strapless princess design. “Women will always love strapless and want dresses that are slightly ivory, not white, but there are beautiful alternatives,” she said. The most important and unchanging rule of wedding dress fashion is to find something you love, that flatters and that fits. A dress that special could be worn for generations. LIFE Editor: Bruce MacKenzie > Telephone: 250-380-5346 > E-mail: [email protected] ARTS, C4 TV, C6 SARAH PETRESCU Ready to Wear [email protected] 1909 bridal dress has forged family bond spanning generations WEB EXTRA: Rain dance timescolonist.com/extras Boots add a splash of colour to a grey day something new WEDDING SERIES Today we kick off a series of stories on wedding prepara- tions. Throughout May and June, Times Colonist writers will explore trends in food, cakes, gifts, decorations and every- thing else that goes into making the day special. We also want to hear from you. Send us your favourite wedding anecdotes. Things that went right and things that went wrong. Keep them to about 150 words and e-mail them to [email protected] or mail them to Features at the Times Colonist, 2621 Douglas St., Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2 COURTESY OF FAMILY ABOVE: Mary Constance Guilfoyle was the first to wear the bridal dress, made of fine French lace, in 1909. RIGHT: Kay Begley’s aunt Dorothea wore the dress in1946. DEBRA BRASH, TIMES COLONIST Stephanie Shade wears a French lace bustier bridal dress by Alida Lloyd. HANDOUT Tessa Begley wears her great-grandmother’s 1909 bridal gown — reconstructed for her wedding last summer by Victoria dressmaker Alida Lloyd. Something old, timescolonist.com >> For a soundslide about the 1909 dress reconstruction and a bridal gown photo gallery, visit our website. > Fashion show fundraiser, C3

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Page 1: Fashioning a wedding dress

TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010 C1TIMES COLONIST, VICTORIA, B.C.

O n Aug. 4, 1909, inCollingwood, Ont.,a young MaryConstance Guil-

foyle beamed for the cam-era with her groom, JohnPatrick McLaughlin, andtheir wedding party besidethem. The broad-brimmed,flower-laden hats of thebridesmaids and tailoredmen’s suits made for a typi-cal Edwardian vignette.

But it was the bride’sdress, custom-made withfine imported French lace,that would create a bondspanning generations of thenewlyweds’ descendants.

“It’s amazing that it haslasted and fit so many ofus,” Kay Begley said. She isthe McLaughlins’ grand-daughter and unofficialkeeper of the dress that hassince been worn nine timesby family members, includ-ing herself. “I got it frommy mother and now it’sbecome a passion to keep itin the family.”

Incorporating a familyheirloom into weddingdress attire is tradition, atalisman of luck in love.Something old, somethingnew, something borrowed,something blue. But pre-serving a dress over a cen-tury is nearly impossible.

Which is why Begleybrought her bride-to-bedaughter Tessa and thedress to Alida Lloyd lastyear to be restored. Tessa’swedding took place 100years almost to the dayafter her great-grand-mother wore the dress forthe first time.

“It was not in the bestshape. There were yellowspots and the lace wasfrail,” said Lloyd, whodesigns and makes custom-wedding dresses and attireat Alida’s Gowns in Sidney.“It’s not uncommon forsomeone to want to wear adress that has been passeddown. Usually, the adjust-ments make it fit perfectlyand less matronly thansome of the older styles.But this dress was a chal-lenge and had a very inter-esting history.”

After 1909, the dress wasnot worn again until 1943,by Begley’s aunt MaryMcLaughlin. Her ownmother did not wear thedress for her wedding — abrown suit at Toronto cityhall during wartime seemedmore appropriate for thetimes.

There is a photo of hermother’s sister, Dorothea,

wearing the dress on herwedding day in 1946. Thesimplified undergarmentworn beneath the panelledlace sheath made it lookentirely different from thetrailing lace gown of 1909.

Begley’s sister AnneSirdevan wore the dress in1971, when she had to besewn into it. Begley worethe dress for her own wed-ding in 1973. It was flown toGlasgow to be worn by hercousin Denise Jones in 1975,then to another cousin inFrance in 1978. In 1989,Begley’s younger brotherJoseph Sirdevan’s brideMarie wore the dress attheir wedding in Toronto.

“When Alida saw thedress she said she’d have totake it apart to save it,” saidBegley, who divides hertime between Pender Islandand Vancouver, where sheworks as an accountant. “Iknew I might get flak fromthe family, but the alterna-tive was that we’d never getto see it worn again.”

Lloyd followed the tradi-tion of using the lace dressas an overlay, creating aScarlett O’Hara shape toflatter Tessa Begley’s fig-ure. The original panels ofthe dress were combined

with flounces and rosettesto give it a tiered look.

“She looked incredible,”said her mother, who gavea speech about the dress atthe wedding. She said thereare several great-grand-daughters and four great-great-granddaughters,including Tessa’s two-month-old baby, Magdalen, whomight be interested in wear-ing it one day. “Taking careof the dress has becomevery important to me.”

Lloyd, a master seam-stress, designs her gownsmade-to-measure, using pri-marily silk and fine fabricswith hand-sewn embellish-ments. Her dresses rangefrom $2,500 to $5,000.

“Every dress is guaran-teed to fit perfectly. It istrue haute couture,” shesaid. Word has spread sinceshe started her businessfour years ago — it was adream project she vowedto fulfil after her firsthusband died. She nowaverages one dress perweek and has outfittedentire wedding parties.

“My favourite are thewedding dresses. They arespecial.”

Lloyd follows the latesttrends in wedding dresses.

“Already fashionablewomen will seek out some-one like me to custom-maketheir dress,” she said,adding that women withhard-to-fit body types mightalso prefer a custom dress.She designs and makessample dresses for display,ranging from the classic tothe fashion-forward.

Lloyd says there are afew new trends dominating.One is to embellish wildly.

“Heavily rosed skirtsare popular right now.The trend is to have a lotof loose, unfinished, bigorganza roses all over,”she said. Just stay awayfrom the heavy beadingand jewels.

Bustiers and French laceare making a comeback,reflecting the current trendin streetwear. “The corset is

very in right now,” Lloydsaid. Diagonal and plungingnecklines are also a popularalternative to the popularstrapless princess design.

“Women will alwayslove strapless and wantdresses that are slightlyivory, not white, but thereare beautiful alternatives,”she said.

The most important andunchanging rule of weddingdress fashion is to findsomething you love, thatflatters and that fits.A dress that special couldbe worn for generations.

LIFEEditor: Bruce MacKenzie > Telephone: 250-380-5346 > E-mail: [email protected] ■ ARTS, C4 ■ TV, C6

SARAH PETRESCUReady to [email protected]

1909 bridal dresshas forged familybond spanninggenerations

WEB EXTRA: Rain dance

timescolonist.com/extras

Boots add a splash of colourto a grey day

something new

WEDDING SERIESToday we kick off a series ofstories on wedding prepara-tions. Throughout May and June,Times Colonist writers willexplore trends in food, cakes,gifts, decorations and every-thing else that goes into makingthe day special.We also want to hear from you.Send us your favourite weddinganecdotes. Things that wentright and things that wentwrong. Keep them to about 150words and e-mail them [email protected] ormail them to Features at theTimes Colonist, 2621 DouglasSt., Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2

COURTESY OF FAMILYABOVE: Mary Constance Guilfoyle was the first to wearthe bridal dress, made of fine French lace, in 1909.RIGHT: Kay Begley’s aunt Dorothea wore the dress in1946.

DEBRA BRASH, TIMES COLONISTStephanie Shade wears a French lace bustier bridal dressby Alida Lloyd.

HANDOUTTessa Begley wears her great-grandmother’s 1909 bridal gown — reconstructed for her wedding last summer by Victoria dressmaker Alida Lloyd.

Something old,

timescolonist.com>> For a soundslide aboutthe 1909 dress reconstructionand a bridal gown photo gallery,visit our website.

> Fashion show fundraiser, C3