Abigail Clare

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The journey of a dress

When Kavitha and I started to discuss plans for The Dress, we looked at ways she could combine traditional styles with a more modern "Cinderella" dress. Before she travelled to Sri Lanka, where she was to find the stunningly beautiful white and silver sari we used, the idea was to use sections of the sari to decorate an A-line white silk dress. However, once we saw the sari in all its twinkling glory, spread across the carpet, we realised it deserved more than to be cut up as trimming, and so we went back to the drawing board.

Once we had decided on a new design, and the sari had been washed and dried in a kind relative's garden, I made a mock-up bodice and skirt to fit to Kavitha, and then it was time to make the first cuts. The brocade fabric is not designed to be cut and tends to fray so it was important to spend as little time as possible working on the fabric itself.

A strapless bodice showed off the incredible embroidery and brocade of part of the sari, while a slightly higher waist and pleating at the waist echoed the traditional pleated sari skirt. This meant we could take advantage of the beautiful border and have it running around the hem of the skirt. In most dresses, the hem is the last part to be stitched but in this case it was the first. Here, once the main work was done, much time was spent sewing on the many sequins and beads that had fallen off when we cut the fall of the sari to make the bodice! A final touch to the dress was embroidering a small logo of the bride and groom's initials onto the train, and using the last decorated parts of the sari to make a matching bolero.

With many thanks to Kavitha and Alexandra Hunt at www.alexandrahunt.net for their fabulous photos of fittings and the big day.


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