What? Me do a book review? When the book is full of vintage embroidery, fashion and the royals, you betcha.
It has been a long time since I have actually read a book. Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot, way more than most people I know. So, I have been waiting for this book to become available for a few months from the library. I am hooked. The book caught my attention because it was about the making of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. Rich in detail, historically accurate but, more importantly, about the women who made the gown and even the actual process. Frankly, a novel based on actual events.
Always interested in embroidery, I was amazed at the materials, design and hundreds of woman hours that went into the making of this gown- all done in 4 months time. All the embellishing done by hand. In 1947 when this gown was made and the wedding took place, there was still rationing while England struggled to recover from WWII. The royals, like everybody else, had to use ration coupons to purchase all the finery. The government did allow Princess Elizabeth additional 200 coupons because they thought the event would boost morale and they were right!
Norman Hartnell, designer to the rich and royal, designed the gown. Stitched in his workrooms using politically correct materials like satin made with Chinese (not Japanese, they were the enemy) silkworms.
Clearly lots of research was done to present a lovely story of personal relationships and a rare look inside the workrooms and processes of a major designer. I am not finished with the book yet but I am quite sure I will be sad to see it come to an end.
If you love embroidery, you’ll love The Gown. Of course, this sent me off in a few related searches. Here’s a beautiful website for the royals: Www.royals.uk
More on Norman Hartnell: Remembering Norman Hartnell, The Fashion Designer Behind Princess Beatrice’s Vintage Wedding Dress. http://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/norman-hartnell
With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created to tell a story of women whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.
‘Robson succeeds in creating a riveting drama of female friendship, of lives fully lived despite unbearable loss, and of the steadfast effort required to bring forth beauty after surviving war’ Independent
‘A great tale of female friendship’ The People’s Friend
Stay vintage my friends,