I was a two-dress bride; our reception was a swing dance, and I needed something tea length that I could dance in. I really wanted a grey dress, so that I could wear it again, and the original plan was vintage. I fell in love with this one when I saw it on eBay: late 1940s Pierre Balmain, convertible to strapless, and with the most amazing lacework.
When it arrived, it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t going to work for dancing. I knew the dress was a fixer-upper, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of work that had to go into it. The corsetry and parts of the silk were very brittle, and bits were yellowing and flaking off.
After a few weeks calling restoration specialists, I found Jan Barlow. Her work is incredible, and I hope that she puts up a blog post of her own detailing how she made this happen. She literally re-pleated the material so that the brittle folds were hidden, which gave the dress strength (in addition to making it more beautiful) and made it wearable again.
Part of me is thinking of removing the gold ribbon at the hem, and possibly making it a few inches shorter (if it can stand up to that - the ribbon may provide it with structural integrity). I love the designer’s original, more subdued look. But either way, I think it’s absolutely gorgeous.
I couldn’t wear it at my wedding, but I did manage to wear it out to the SF Ballet gala with my husband a month later. :) I opted for strapless, and spent most of the night kind of afraid to breathe, but it all worked out in the end.