Thursday, March 19, 2009


Thank You, Mrs. McCabe!


The door bell pealed. I opened the door and squealed as I reached out both hands to grab the box. The mailman slowly backed away. My keys were in my hand ripping the tape open as I balanced the box in my left. I snatched the top tissue papers away. Then, reverently almost, I set the box down. With two gentle hands, now, I lifted the gown out of the box.

And started crying. Noisily.

The gown was gorgeous. My chest hurt. All I could whisper was, "Oh my God. It's so beautiful." We always remember Him when moments are too sublime for other words.

Then the gown went over one arm as I Twittered frantically: "It.Is.Here." The inanity of that announcement. Back to earth with a thud.

Like all creative ventures, this gown, too, has a story. It started when I was vacationing in India. One day, historical novelist Amanda McCabe (also writing as Laurel McKee) sent me an e-mail with two photos attached, of a gown she'd seen at the Jane Austen Center in Bath, England during her fall trip. She said that she'd taken those photographs because she thought that the gown would look really nice on me, and... And... her mother would like to sew me one like that.

A whole day went by. I read that note dozens of times, yet I couldn't frame a suitable reply. Overwhelmed doesn't come close to describing what I felt. A hand-sewn authentic Regency gown for me by a dear friend's mother whom I had not even met. What generosity!

Then the e-mails went back-n-forth across thousands of miles. My measurements, types of fabrics, petticoat or lining, stripes or patterns, which embellishments, a train... I consulted with all the femal relatives in vicinity. My cousin sister-in-law patiently came with me to store after fabric store as we gawked and I turned up my nose at the offerings. Too pink, too busy, too colorless, too too. Then came the ingruous part. The length and width of the fabric arrived in inches. Eh? Father-in-law had to be consulted. Calculators came out as we converted to the metric system to yards. Eventually, we bought six yards. (For comparison purposes, a cricket pitch is 22 yards; so six yards is a lot of fabric.)

After my return home, I mailed off the fabric. Two months later—It.Was.Here.

I cried because not only was it beyond anything I'd ever imagined wearing, but also because every bit of the round gown was painstakingly executed. Self-fabric-covered buttons, antique ornamentation, delicate frothy lace, and piping matching the fabric pattern. Take a look at the exquisite detailing of the inner seams and button placket. All period-perfect. (Thank goodness, there's no watch pocket though, which would've been a slit under the right boob. I can just see the looks I'd get groping to check the time at the Beau Monde Soiree at DC in July.)

At the bottom of the dress box was a little surprise. A precious little reticule with lace and matching ornament. Now, the only question remains: Should I be an Elinor, a Lizzy, or a Maria? I'm talking about bonnets from Austentation here, of course.


12 comments:

Stephanie J said...

I've been waiting to see pics after your Tweet about this! How beautiful! But what's the background...is this how everyone dresses for the Beau Monde soiree? How did Ms. McCabe know you'd want/need one? :)

So excited for you!!!! The detailing is perfection.

Caitlin said...

What a gorgeous dress! Lucky thing.

Kelly Krysten said...

Be a Lizzy!! You're smart, fun, and a freethinker! Just like her!! This begs the question: Is your guy a Darcy?lol.

SavvyChick said...

K, that is the most beautiful and touching gift anyone could ask for. You will look breathtaking in DC. I can't wait to get a picture of you in that dress. And the matching purse. Oh. My. Gosh. Fabulous.

Dreamy sigh.

Diane Gaston said...

It is so pretty!!!!!

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, I said it on Facebook but I'll say it again now - how gorgeous! And bravo to Ammanda and her ma for the beautiful thought! Can't wait to see you in it!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I think I like the Lizzie the best myself. The dress is just beautiful.

HavenRich said...

I think the Elinor (not the plain) would complement your dress perfectly.

Beautiful gown!!

Megan Frampton said...

That is a gorgeous dress, and you will look lovely in it.

Woot!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Keira, no wonder you're over the moon - it's beyond gorgeous!

Kirralee Schmidt said...

It's divine, Keira. I can't tell you how jealous I am!

missbluestocking said...

Oh wow, that is such a lovely dress....