A FENLAND cathedral used as the backdrop for the Royal Wedding scenes in Golden Globe winning drama series The Crown has inspired a King’s Ely student to create a bridal gown and veil taking inspiration from the building’s stunning Gothic architecture.
Libby Chessor, 18, was drawn to the ornamental details of the church’s stonework and stained glass windows while performing as a member of Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir and decided to incorporate the designs into her A Level Textiles coursework.
Libby, who is a boarder at King’s Ely, said: “As a full-time chorister, the cathedral plays a big part in my school life. From where I stand in the choir stalls looking through the presbytery gates I can see the exquisite stained-glass windows of Etheldreda’s Chapel and became fascinated in how they related to floral imagery.
“I had a Eureka moment when I realised the shapes and patterns I saw could translate into a design as part of a bridal garment. I wanted my design to mimic the beauty and splendour of the building. Ely Cathedral really is a fairy-tale setting; the sort of place where girls dream of becoming a princess. I wanted to reflect that in my gown and to create something that was ethereal and romantic and that would take people’s breath away.”
The dress is made up of a cotton underskirt with a white organza overlay and gathered waistline. Libby hand embroidered individual blush pink roses, attaching them to the bodice and down to the bottom of the skirt and around. As part of her research, Libby also visited Gloucester and Durham cathedrals and York Minster and looked back on drawings she made of the famous rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral that she visited on a trip to Paris.
Libby, who admits to loving the idea of a big white wedding herself, also took inspiration from the dress worn by the Queen on her own wedding day that was recently on display at the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. The then-Princess Elizabeth’s ivory silk dress, designed by Norman Hartnell, was said to be inspired by Botticelli’s painting of Primavera, and included elaborate embroidery motifs of scattered flowers including jasmine, smilax and lilac.
Libby commented: “It was great to see the whole event brought back to life again in The Crown. I think the Queen is a real style icon and I feel really privileged that Ely Cathedral which is so much part of my life was chosen for the recreation of the ceremony.”
Libby, who also investigated the inspirations and influences behind Lebanese fashion designer Zuhair Murad’s bridal collections as part of her AS Level project, says she is looking forward to the next Royal Wedding and hopes that 2017 will see Prince William pop the question to American actress Megan Markle.
Libby added: “I think she would make a stunning royal bride. I am sure any designer would leap at the chance of transforming her into a fairy tale princess.”
Alison Rhodes, director of Art at King’s Ely, praised Libby for the ambitiousness and originality of her design. She said: “It is a very interesting project because it links directly to her work in the girls’ choir. Libby spends such a lot of time in cathedrals and travelling so it is highly appropriate for her to base her project on this sort of context as this is her life. Ely Cathedral is so beautiful. I thought it was absolutely super when she came up with the concept because I like my students to link with areas of personal interest as I think this makes things much more exciting for them.”
King’s Ely Fashion and Textiles students achieve some of the best GCSE and A Level results in the country, with many students going on to study at internationally-renowned universities and colleges such as Chelsea, Ravensbourne, Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, Royal School of Needlework Hampton Court Palace, Edinburgh and Falmouth.
Around a dozen King’s Ely A Level Fashion and Textiles students will also be showcasing their flamboyant garment designs and accessories at this year’s Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at London’s Olympia. The extravaganza, which is being held from March 2nd to 5th, is renowned as being one of Europe’s biggest textiles exhibitions.