Friday, March 26, 2010

The REAL Laurel Dress and its award-winning twin!

Before embarking on a journey through the real dress, here is a link to ours in its glory. So different! Just goes to show what a pencil sketch can do for ones interpretation of a gown.
Anyone out there who knows the Patterns of Fashion books by Janet Arnold will know that all the dresses are real, and in museums around the UK. The dress we call the Laurel Dress is in the Museum of London  but there are no photographs of it online at this time. Not being one to be put off however, I emailed and the wonderful curator of things frocky responded with an amazing story of a student called Jordan Bentley, who had recreated the laurel dress for the UK Costume Society's "Patterns of Fashion Award". She was highly commended in 2008 and has gone on to work as a free lance costumier.
While researching her dress, Jordan was allowed to photograph the original and she has VERY kindly allowed us to put the photos on this blog, as well as a few of her reproduction.

Jordan Bentley's exquisite reproduction of Lady Maud Warrender's "laurel dress"

Stunning from the back too!
Look at that detail, it's absolutely beautiful
The original dress, back view.The original dress, front
Original, bodice and sash front detail shot. The ruching in the bodice just makes me want to cry, it's so delicate!
Overskirt detail shot. I was amazed to see that the sequins are sewn on in an even pattern - in the drawing they looked quite random.
Sash end detail. The contrast is all down to sparkle isn't it.Smaller sash end. Notice how the end is not truly rounded. And the long leaf-shaped sequins, beautiful.
Seeing the inside of the bodice like this shows just how close Jordan's dress is to the original. And how delicate this 100 year old dress is today. So precious too!
I don't even know which bit this is but again, so delicate!
The maker's name "Madame Hayward" and address in Bond Street. I wonder what the fittings were like - did they make creative decisions on the go like we sometimes do, or was the dress completely designed in a sketch and came out exactly as she intended?

Thank you Hilary and Jordan for your time and experience and for allowing us to share these precious gowns - the original and the reproduction.


  1. Absolutely beautiful. So amazing and precious. I can't imagine the hours of love put into making them so perfect.

  2. WoW! I've always wanted to see pictures of this gown. Thank you for posting!

  3. I was thinking this morning that given the Fashions of Patterns books have been sold by the millions, making the clothes featured the 'rockstars' of historical clothing, that perhaps the institutions that house them should give priority to having their photos online. Not just front and back shots but lots! Maybe they don't realise, or maybe noone has ever asked. Just a thought...

  4. Hi Maryanne
    I loved the work you were doing creating the wonderful fabric yesterday at Summerset. Have mentioned a little of your endeavours on

  5. Thank you. I really enjoyed the pictures.