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This bride wore a vintage 80s dress from the designers of Princess Dianas wedding dresses




Riding the rails in a bridal boutique was never on the cards for Laura McLaws Helms when she got engaged. Fashion historian and curator who literally wrote the book on bohemian chic (her study of Thea Porter includes a foreword by legendary ’70s designer daughter Venetia), McLaws Helms had always known she would walk in the aisle wearing vintage.

I generally like to wear clothes that other people don’t, says the longtime collector, who already had a bunch of white wedding dresses in his closet at home in New York when his partner, Bryan Lindner, proposed. When I first got engaged, I thought I’d wear one, she says. I had a white Thea dress and an Ossie Clark that I had for about 18 years But then I thought, maybe I’ll just go see if I can find an Emanuel.

Bride Laura styled her vintage 80s wedding gown with Terry de Havilland platforms and a 1940s flower crown that she found on Etsy and trimmed with vintage pink ribbons from the clothing district of New York.

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More famous than the creators of the voluminous silk taffeta dress Princess Diana wore to marry Prince Charles at St Paul’s Cathedral are the dresses Elizabeth and David Emanuel created for former Bond girl Jane Seymour. which sparked the love affair between McLaws Helmss and the former husband and wife. Team unique 80s romance brand. They made a lot of dresses for her with sweetheart necklines, tight bustiers, big skirts and lots of ribbons and embroidery, says McLaws Helms. I’ve always loved those old photos of Jane in the ’80s, at the Golden Globes, or at Fashion Aid with Freddie Mercury. First of all, she is incredibly beautiful. But those very romantic, slightly OTT dresses made her look even more like someone from a romance novel.

Jane Seymour in an Emanuel dress at the Fashion Aid show in 1985.

© Dave Hogan

The bride-to-be was still quietly looking for a dress that could make the photo that takes shape in her head a reality when fate stepped in. I was looking, but I hadn’t told anyone what I wanted, she said. Meanwhile, news of her engagement had reached vintage merchant Cherie Balch, who had recently come into possession of a fairytale dress Emanuel. I knew it wouldn’t be for everyone, but I also knew that when I found the right person for it, it would be pure magic, says the founder of Shrimpton Couture, who sources archival pieces for clients like Rihanna, Kaitlyn Dever and Tracee Ellis. Ross. The second I heard Laura was engaged, I reached out to her and told her I had something to do with it. I knew deep inside that it was her dress.

Lauras Emanuel dress, which she was finally able to wear in October, with a sweetheart neckline and dramatic sleeves, adorned with a pink ribbon.

© Somewhere wild

I’ve known Cherie for a very long time, says McLaws Helms now. She knows my tastes and my body. When I saw pictures of the dress I was like, oh my god! She sent it to me and it was fine. It was like fate, as if I had manifested this dream.

Alas, not everything would go so well. Laura and Bryan were originally scheduled to exchange vows in April 2020. Much of my family is in Europe, so we had been keeping a close eye on everything that was going on with Covid, especially in Italy, and were getting more and more nervous, says McLaws Helms. About five weeks before what would have been their big day, the couple emailed their guests explaining that they had been forced to postpone. At that point, I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, I was just thankful that we made a decision.

When she and Bryan fled in June after postponing their April wedding due to Covid, the bride wore a Gina Fratini dress purchased from Etsy while in quarantine in upstate New York.

Three months later, with a party for 160 people not looking more realistic than in April, the father of the bride made a suggestion: a leak. I had always wanted to go to this old West Virginia resort, the Greenbrier, explains Laura. Dorothy Draper redesigned it in the 1940s and it’s just amazing. My father looked for it and it had started to reopen. He said: How about two Saturdays from now on? We were like, of course! We have nothing else planned. When the bride checked the date on her calendar, she realized it was her own parents’ wedding anniversary, another fateful moment. It worked perfectly for us to get married on an already special day for my family.

The bride with her bouquetier, her parents’ dog.

The low-key case required a different dress, and luckily Laura already had the trick: a flowy dress by Gina Fratini (another favorite of Princess Diana) that was found online while quarantining herself in the State and while waiting to continue her blocked marriage plans. I saw it on Etsy, she says. At the time, I thought that if I ended up getting married in a courthouse, I could wear this rather than my princess-y Emanuel dress. Instead, she wore it to exchange vows in the picturesque 18th century resort grounds, in front of the couple’s parents and the brides family dog ​​(he was my flower boy). The minute my dad suggested we run away, I knew it was the one I was wearing. I am particularly drawn to clothes that are romantic and have an element of whimsy, and Gina Fratini is one of my favorite designers.

When the wedding took place in October, Laura again wore her beloved Terry de Haviland platforms.

© Somewhere wild

Laura added a 1940s orange blossom wreath that she also found on Etsy, and a precious pair of heels from her friend, the late Terry de Haviland. Hed always said he would make me a pair of shoes for my wedding, she says of the rock and roll cobbler who kept Bianca Jagger on platforms. De Haviland passed away in November 2019 and the bride eventually wore a pair of her shoes that she had had for about 15 years in her honor. I had them repaired, solved and perfected, she says. It was really sweet and charming, said the bride at the couple’s small wedding in West Virginia. Even though it was sad that my brother and other really important people couldn’t be there, I feel lucky that it was so intimate and special.

I’ve always thought the Emanuels deserved to be discussed and appreciated for more than just Princess Dianas’ wedding, Laura McLaws Helms says.

© Somewhere wild

The other bonus, she says, was that she and her groom were super relaxed when their postponed ceremony finally took place in the grounds of Bethesda Academy in Savannah, Ga. In October 2020. It was for 30. guests, rather than 160, but Lauras’ romantic Emanuel dress, with its beaded bodice and delicate rosebud trim, had its long-awaited moment in the sun. Her crown of orange blossoms, which she herself trimmed with a vintage pink ribbon from New York’s clothing district, once again provided the finishing touch.

The bride changed into a vintage Ossie Clark gown for the evening celebrations following the couples’ postponed wedding in Savannah, Georgia.

© Somewhere wild

For the evening festivities, the bride changed the Ossie Clark dress from that original stash of white dresses in the back of her closet into another vintage treasure. I don’t even remember how I got it or when I got it, she says of the Swinging London icon’s ivory damask silk dress, which has short sleeves, a dramatic open neckline and a ribbon tie belt. I know I found it on eBay. It was so good to wear it. The first designer I started collecting was Ossie.

The bride at her October wedding reception in a vintage Ossie Clark gown that she had had for 18 years.

© Somewhere wild

Other than having to report, I was pretty laid back about everything, McLaws Helms now says of his wedding trip. I found it fun to put it all together and make it look as pretty as possible. Choosing vintage for your wedding day is truly wonderful, says Laura, who has an MA in Fashion History from the Fashion Institute of Technology and hardly buys anything new except maybe sports bras. You get something that no one else is likely to have, she says. I love the history and romance of vintage. Plus, the majority of clothing is just not made as well as it was 50 years ago. You can get a lot more for your money.

Lauras, three very different and equally special wedding dresses, all had another life before they found them, but for now they stay with me. Even though someone texted me asking if they could buy one! If I ever have a daughter, take her. And of course, there is always the possibility that Shell will want to wear them again herself. I’m certainly not opposed to all of my best friends not being able to see them. They need another exit.

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