I always knew that if I got married one day, I didn’t want to wear a traditional wedding dress or white, but I never would have imagined that I would be wearing a Christian Dior wedding dress. Grab yourself a glass of wine because this is quite the story!
I had my wedding dress hanging in my closet for three years before Simon and I even got married, and first saw it six years ago. I know that might sound very crazy but it was love, at first sight.
Several years before we were even engaged, this was early 2013, I was invited to a trunk show for the launch of a new online store named Suzsuq which sold pre-loved designer clothing and accessories. Susan Ensor the founder would travel to the Middle East, mainly Dubai and Kuwait to source second hand and vintage luxury goods, that she would then bring them back to Perth.
At her launch event, I saw the dress hanging up and it truly was love at first sight. But as I examined it closer and saw that it was Christian Dior and there was no price tag, I couldn’t bring myself to ask the price or try it on as I knew I could never afford it. The dress is made from silk chiffon in a grey taupe colour, it features panels of vintage lace, an intricate corset and a skirt made from layers and layers of hand-pleated silk chiffon.
Several months later Susan was having another trunk show and I went back with my best friend and showed her the dress, she eventually convinced me to try it on – it was perfect (except for the bust area which was a bit big) and I knew from that moment, that it was the one.
Keeping in mind I was not even engaged at this stage, I called Simon and told him I had found my future wedding dress and asked him if I could borrow his credit card to buy it, as I could not afford to do so. I had no idea how much the dress originally retailed for but given the intricacies of the design and construction, I knew that although this price tag was very high for me that I would never be able to buy anything of that level and quality again, so I tried… Naturally, he said no and laughed at the fact that I was actually being serious and had even considered it. My heart was broken but I had to accept the reality that it was just not meant to be.
Fast forward three years, in 2016 Susan was closing the shop as she was moving overseas. She was having a massive sale, I, of course, raced to it as soon as I heard, hoping that the dress might still be there and at a price point that I could now afford myself (by the way we were still not engaged). As soon as I got there I asked about the dress and she said ‘it’s been waiting for you’ the stars had finally aligned and she gave it to me for an absolute steal! I found out that the dress was from Christian Dior’s Spring Summer Ready to Wear 2009 collection, as pictured below.
Several months later we actually did get engaged, not sure if Simon got the hint and felt a bit of pressure. It hung in my wardrobe until 2019 but did get an occasional outing – yes I did prance around the house in it. One question I got asked a lot during these years was if I was worried that I would get sick of it or change my mind, and I every time I responded ‘not at all’. I am a very decisive person and knew that I could never fall more in love with another dress, especially given the journey it took to get into my closet! In all that time I never actually tried on another wedding dress or gown.
Before the big day, I had to get a few things altered including the bust area which was a very intricately made corset which was a bit big for me, as well as take the dress up a bit. It was so daunting to find someone to take on this monumental task, I procrastinated for a very long time and at one stage even considered flying to Melbourne or Sydney to go to the Dior store for them to alter it, as I was so scared of it getting ruined.
In the end, a very good recommendation from a friend was my saving grace – thanks so much Holly! Talented Perth based wedding gown designer Harriette Gordon had created her incredible wedding dress which I loved and had a similar aesthetic and construction to mine. I had been following her already on Instagram so I took it as another sign from the universe.
I sent her an email and asked her if she would do me this massive favour – as designers don’t normally alter other people’s work. Given the nature of the dress, she very kindly accepted this as a very special project and what an incredible job she did and friendship we have formed. From pretty much deconstructing and put the dress back together again to make it fit perfectly, to hand pressing and pleating the skirt so that you couldn’t even tell it had been taken up, I cannot thank her enough for the impeccable work she did, she turned ‘the dress’ into ‘my dress’. Her skill, vision and commitment to her craft is admirable and if you are getting married, I would highly recommend you go visit her!
I had decided that I didn’t want to wear a veil as it just wasn’t me and when we were finally in Mauritius and I tried the dress on after my hair trial and both my sister and mother were determined that I needed a veil or something else to make it my own. So my sister Saskia who is an incredible fashion designer decided to create me some ‘wings’ the first time I saw them was on the day of the wedding and they worked perfectly, I loved the impact they created and it was so special to have something she created together with this beautiful dress.
I still sometimes pull out the dress and just admire it, it truly is a work of art that so many hands would have worked on and I feel very lucky that I got to wear it. I hope there is a special occasion where I can wear it to again and hopefully one day I can pass it on to someone else.
If you want to read more about our wedding in Mauritius see the feature on Hello May here.
Photography by the talented Paris Hawken.