Saturday 4 August 2007

a little help?

i got an email a couple of days ago from a member of my "very confusing to explain" extended family, shauna, looking for suggestions on how to refashion her vera wang wedding dress. i'll let shauna explain the significance of the gown in her own words:

"I bought my dream Vera Wang dress for my wedding and because it was very expensive, the only way I could justify spending the money was to buy it knowing that I would sell it after my wedding. So after my wedding I sold my dress on eBay to a young woman in Pensylvania. Through the sale process, we became friends. She and her husband to be were getting married in 2001 on the same weekend Simon and I had been married. We emailed back and forth quite a lot, and she was selected to be on a TV show called 'A Wedding Story' which follows real life couples through their marriage preparations and ceremony. The reason she and her fiancee were selected was because the bride (Niki) had Cystic Fibrosis. The programed showed how she and her husband dealt with her disease and also with the knowledge that she would likely not live very long.

After their wedding, Niki's health started to deteriorate. She died less than a year after her own wedding. Before she died she asked her husband to send the dress back to me after she passed. It arrived at my house a week after her death and was a complete surprise. So I now have this dress and it is very special to me.

I had the dress cleaned and I currently have it wrapped in a cotton sheet and stored in a cedar chest. It seems a shame to let it waste away in the basement like that. I don’t have a daughter to wear the dress one day and I could never sell it. I would love to have the dress remade into something but I just don’t know what. I contacted a lady who makes bears out of old fur coats but she was concerned that there wasn’t enough silk and her prototype bear looked ugly (her words – I didn’t ever see the prototype).

It has a sleeveless silk bodice with a bateau neckline and an illusion back. The drop waist poofs out into 13 layers (weird that there are 13 since brides tend to be superstitious) of the nicest tulle ever. There is a crinoline underneath and then a silky skirt (probably polyester) underneath it all and next to the skin. On the back of the dress (from the neck to the hem) is a row of tiny silk covered buttons with small bows on each third button. If you have any ideas as to what I can do with it I would love to hear them."

what do you think, crafty ladies? any ideas? please leave a comment or send me an email and i'll forward all suggestions on to shauna...


  1. What about actioning the dress off and donating the proceeds to the Cystic Fibrosis foundation in Niki's name? I know that making the dress into a keepsake would be very poignant and ideal, but perhaps if no solution presents itself, an auction might be a nice tribute to a very special lady.

  2. What a touching story. Yes I agree with Sarah, above - auction off the dress and donate proceeds. Alternatively, if you did indeed want to cut it up, you could make several miniature versions of the dress and have them framed and send one to niki's husband, keep one for yourself and perhaps sell any others with proceeds going to charity. Good luck with your decision.

  3. how about contacting Vera Wang with your story to see if she would respond. (she is bound to have an idea,yes?)
    I don't agree with auctioning it off- but I am sentimental...

  4. What I am about to say may sound silly, particularly in comparison with the first two comments. Your dress has established a life of its own. It is a dress with a story. It is a dress of two continents. My daughter and I each had beautiful gift & home decor shops thousands of kilometers apart. One thing we each found was that items belonged with certain people. My daughter once bought a beautiful fruit set in English bone china at Camberwell Market and sent it to me in Northern Australia for my shop. I had never heard of or seen this brand of china. But a woman came in and bought it. It turned out that just a few weeks before at a local market she had purchased a dinner set in exactly the same pattern. So I believe that that fruit set travelled all the way from Melbourne to find its rightful owner. I think if you adopt that attitude your dress will continue to have an interesting life. I would tell its story far and wide - including, as Kristin said, contacting Vera Wang herself. I think as you tell the story and open your heart you may find opportunities to lend that dress to some very interesting brides. You might not have to auction the dress to raise funds for CF. CF may have an event at which the dress could be displayed with the story nicely written up beside it and people could donate money to a Bride's Fund perhaps? Thank you for sharing the lovely story of two lovely brides and a beautiful dress.

  5. Anonymous2:23 am

    I agree with Sarah, I thought the exact same thing!

  6. OH I couldn't agree more.. all are brilliant suggestions. Such a precious dress with such a precious past. Thanks so much for sharing Leslie!

  7. i think auctioning it is a great idea, too but i think shauna wants something a bit more sentimental to remind her of their friendship. one thing i thought of was having two mini versions of the dress made out of the material, maybe 12 inches high, that could be framed and put on display. shauna could send one to niki's husband and keep the other so they would both have part of the dress.

  8. maybe you could make a children`s dress out of it? Similar pattern or another what shows this "dream dress" quality? So maybe your own daughter could wear it on some special day? I think this dress should stay in family and also to be used in some way by you or your family. I could imagine little 2 or 3 year old miss running across the summer meadow in this gorgeous princess dress....

  9. Anonymous5:43 am

    I've read the suggestions and find the miniature framed dresses (one for each of the brides and the others to be auctioned) quite nice. But I had to write because I'd seen that Wedding Story and always wondered how the couple had fared. It is a beautiful story and the dress allows Niki to live on.

  10. wow, what an amazing story, and the dress is stunning. All of the suggestions so far are great, but I would have trouble letting it go. I wish I had a great idea, but I think that I wouldn't want to cut it up either.....

  11. Before I cut it up or anything, I personal would do a "trash the dress" shoot with it: the dress doesn't actually necessarily get ruining (I did one with my dress) but it would add even more layers of incredible memories and adventures for this dress.

  12. Anonymous7:14 am

    Thank you all so much for your comments! When I had contacted the teddy bear lady my intention was to have two made up so that I could send one to Dustin - great idea (if only I could track him down). I think the mini dress idea could work and I am FOR SURE going to send the story to Vera Wang to see what she thinks. I REALLY hope she replies. I enjoyed the pictures of the 'trash the dress' - that would be fun!

  13. Not sure if this would be easy to do or not - but how about dying it black or royal blue and cutting the skirt shorter - or assymetrically - so it was knee length at the front and longer at the back - kind of "princess with attitude". The dress could then be worn for special more formal things and not stay in the cupboard. If it looks too 'pouffy' you could even take some layers out from underneath.

    Beautiful dress. Beautiful story. :)

  14. Anonymous9:55 pm

    I like the first 3 suggestions. Conatct Vera Wang, afterall she is just a human and she might have an idea or two!

    I like the idea of passing it on to someone and the story continuing.

    Meanwhile, don't keep the dress wrapped in fabric. I have heard that some fabrics are treated with minerals, even 'natural' fabrics before beings sold. This can lead to rust like stains onto fabric. Buy some acid free paper and wrap it in this.

    a special story.

  15. I like the idea of auctioning it off, and then maybe someone else can add to the wedding dress story - it is a beautiful dress. I don't think I could bear to cut it up - and I'd be interested to know what Ms Wang thinks about this. continuing the story for me is what the dress is about.

  16. Such a touching story about a beautiful dress!
    Posie ( makes quilts from wedding dresses. You might like to check out her site.

  17. Hi -
    I am a little late on this one but I wanted to let you know that Niki's husband has remarried. I don't know him personally, I just followed the story for several years after Niki's death. There was a whole thread on TLC about Niki and Dustin but he eventually requested that it be taken down because people were saying ugly things about him remarrying. I don't know where he is now - he was a teacher in PA, I believe.
    I remember that Niki had a sister but I can't remember her name - if you could track her down she might love to have the dress, or a piece of it.
    Is that your relative or Niki in the picture above? I am guessing that it is your relative but she looks like Niki. It is an absolutely beautiful dress and I hope she finds something to do with it.


  18. I know I'm very late to the party, but I knew Nikki (before she changed it to Niki) in High School. Niki's sisters name is Megin she lives in Philadelphia. If anyone is still active in this thread please post a comment and it will send an email to me.


  19. Anonymous4:39 am

    I am the cousin of Niki. I know the post of this is old, but I was wondering what ever happened to the dress? I sent Niki's sister the link.

    Rebecca Sherry


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