THE STORY OF THE LOST 1960S WEDDING DRESS

In Sydney’s Newtown recently, I came across a gem of a shop called The Vintage Drawer. Owner Deborah Thomson has a very fine eye – all her pieces are exquisite and in wonderful condition. I found a perfect long-sleeved black velvet 1930s evening dress, and a bright emerald satin sheath that was actually ‘80s designer but after the va-va-voom 1950s fashion – bateau-necked, hip-hugging with dramatic half overskirt in the back. She's got hand-beaded collars and bags, 1940s tea dresses in really good nick, unfaded Art Deco crepe. Cheerful original 1950s cotton frocks in totally wearable shapes. This place is a treasure box, I tell you. Anyway...

Deborah Thomson with one of her 1950s dresses

Deborah Thomson with one of her 1950s dresses

I was admiring a wisp of genuine Edwardian organdie that would, I said, make a perfect wedding dress.

“Oh I have a wedding dress story,” said Deborah… 

Did she ever.

In 1967 robbers broke into Jennifer Kearns’s house in Enmore. They stole all sorts including her wedding outfit from the year before. That was the lost thing that truly saddened her, not least because it seemed so pointless – really, how much could they expect to get for it? A second-hand dress, no matter how well-made, wasn’t worth a mint in actual dollars. But it was worth a fortune in sentiment to Jennifer Kearns.

Jennifer Kearns on her wedding day, and 50 years on, made it into print in her local paper 

Jennifer Kearns on her wedding day, and 50 years on, made it into print in her local paper 

Now, this wasn’t her actual wedding dress – money was short so she’d hired that. No, this was her going away look. Carefully made by her talented grandmother who worked as a seamstress at Grace Brothers, that ice blue coat and dress represented romance and promise to Jennifer Kearns. It represented happiness and hope and family, and youth and love and beauty. And now it was gone.

Fast forward 50 years.

A similar ensemble worn by Jackie Kennedy on a trip to India in 1962

A similar ensemble worn by Jackie Kennedy on a trip to India in 1962

At the end of last year, Jennifer, who these days lives in Caringbah, was antiques shopping with her daughter in Newtown. They passed The Vintage Drawer. It seemed like a charming place, they thought. They decided to poke their noses in. And what do you think they saw?

Yup.

Half a century later: there is was.

At first she didn’t really recognise it, at least not for sure. It did seem familiar, like an echo of her own lost dress. But after all these year, I mean, what were the chances? She tried it on, just for fun. It fitted, which made her smile. Then she hung it back on the rack, and went home with an amusing story to tell. “Who’d have thought? Can you imagine…”

But the next day she woke up thinking about the buttons. They really were very distinctive buttons. Suddenly it hit her. It wasn't similar to her dress. IT WAS HER DRESS. 

She sped back to the shop and bought back her dress, and wore it to the party for her 50th wedding anniversary.

Who knows where Jennifer’s going away outfit went away to for all these years? I hope it had a great adventure.