Originally purchased in 1970, this Chantilly number still looks as good today as the first day it was worn. I believe (and the bride can confirm for me) that is was preserved shortly after the wedding. That was some forty years ago, and it looks great. I have heard horror stories of wedding dresses turning yellow, disintegrating or holding a stench that won't go away. Thankfully, we had no such problems!
The dress is full Chantilly lace. Yes, that is a lot of lace, although I am sure there are dresses with yards more —for me, this is enough to work with. The pattern on the lace itself is different than anything I have come across in person or on the internets these days. The flowers are close, but as you can see from the train, there is a definite spacing throughout. The ones I see online/in stores are very close together. I prefer the look of this vintage lace.
You can see a little more detail in this photo. If you look close you can see the cuff which is tight to the wrist, and how the sleeve is much larger at the bottom. Thank goodness for these sleeves. These babies are what we are piecing the bodice out of! You can also see that the dress has an empire waist, which is why we have to use the sleeves for the bodice. When we tried the dress on the current bride, her shoulders are a little broader than her mother's, and the empire waist just didn't work for her, she has a longer torso. She also wanted a v-neck or something to that effect, which would be impossible from the original bodice piece.
What you can't see in this photo is the lace trim that we took from the cuffs, but you can see the neckline trim. We took that off and will use it in her daughter's reconstructed dress. I can't remember where (I think the back bodice neckline or sleeve trim?), but it will be reused. It is great looking trim with a delicate look. We scoured trim shops in Boston and found nothing that compared to it. We are trying hard to use every piece that is from this dress. Besides the lining, almost everything will be incorporated into the new dress.
Ah, the train. It will stay as is, but the skirt will be modified. As of now, our mock-up has a full underskirt with a fuller a-line shape of the skirt, so essentially the train will look wider. The only part of lace that will be exposed are the very edges of the train. This is something we saw in a modern dress during our investigatory trip that we thought looked great and think we can incorporate it into this one. We will also have to figure out how to re-bustle the bustle. That will be interesting!
So that is what we are starting from...it is a big task, but it has been exciting so far (and we are just in the early stages!). My fingers and tossed are crossed!