The Perfect LBD

Finally my novel THE PERFECT DRESS is on Amazon (available for pre-order – just click on the pink link), so it seems fitting that I celebrate this milestone with a perfect dress of my own, and what better excuse than a good friend’s birthday party. Last week I returned to the ‘Wardrobe of My Mum’ and retrieved another of her fabulous BIBA beauties. This one, in near perfect condition, is a striking column of black crepe from the late 60s. My mum informs she wore it barefoot, flowers in her hair, in Hyde Park – a last blast of hippiedom before starting teaching college.

IMG_6911When I was younger I called it the Elvira Dress. It has an undeniably gothic quality. As a teenager I loved trying it on in front of the bedroom mirror. So different from my day-to-day wear (early 90s, lots of stonewash jeans and plaid flannel shirts), it made me feel like a different person, from another era, another domain. The femininity of its plunging neck and draped sleeves, combined with such foreboding blackness, was pure power. In it, I became both fearsome and elfin: a dark fairy queen.

Eventually I found the courage to wear it to a Halloween party, but that was mere costume fun; all its magnificence lost to face paint, plastic Dracula teeth and nasty punch served in plastic cups. I think it’s testament to my 40s and the ‘who cares’ confidence of age, that I’m now able to wear and celebrate such a theatrical dress just ‘because’. No need to disguise my choice with tacky fancy dress reference points. The dress is the dress: uncompromising and fierce.

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The shape doesn’t do a lot for my figure, although the fabric shifts nicely and has a weightiness that feels lush. The magic is in the sleeves: fitted around my shoulders, snug down the biceps, forming billowing bells at the wrists. They’re the kind of sleeves that make you want to hold a white dove to your breast and look wistful as you pace your castle at sunset, hoping your knights will return . . .

Of course, in reality, I sat drinking Prosecco in a suburban back garden, but somewhere inside, deep down, I promise you, I was ruling a mystical realm. All hail the escapist power of a perfect dress!

 

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A Perfect Day For ‘The Perfect Dress’

Happy Valentine’s to you all! It seems timely that today of all days I am finally able to talk publically about my forthcoming contemporary romance #ThePerfectDress, which will be published by Transworld UK this summer, with rights also sold to Germany (Goldmann), Italy (Newton Compton) and Spain (Suma, PRH). Yesterday it was officially announced in the Bookseller. See here.

When I began working on this book, I have to admit I was feeling somewhat despondent about the general state of the world, and had a gut sense that I needed to write the most warm, joy-restoring novel I could – one that would leave readers feeling delighted and uplifted. I kept thinking of the Golden Age of Cinema and how, in the first half of the 20th century, people found an escape from the rigours of the Depression-era by going to the movies. In this way The Perfect Dress is my offer of an escape from today’s issues – with a generous helping of old school glamour!

At the time I was researching and writing about wedding dress for the Victoria & Albert Museum website. See here. The V&A dresses were exquisite beyond exquisite, but what really caught my attention were the wonderful personal stories behind them. My imagination sparked. A wedding dress – arguably the most important dress in a woman’s life – is not just a beautifully designed garment. It’s a symbol of her personality, her lifestyle, her choices, her ideals, her hopes.

With a background in art and design history and a passion for vintage clothing, I became intrigued by the idea that wedding dresses might hold traces of their stories within their fibres, like blueprints. What if there was canny little dress shop that matched vintage wedding dresses, with all their wisdoms and insights stitched within, to modern-day brides? And so Fran and her #whisperingdresses came to be.

I cannot wait for the journey of The Perfect Dress to unfold. I also want to say how chuffed I am to be working with the fabulous @MollyCrawford from Transworld who immediately got what the book was all about. And a massive thank you to the inimitable @SarahSuch, my agent and friend, who has done so much for my writing career. And, lastly, not forgetting my family and friends for all the encouragement and support.

Spread the love. L x