design / dress detective / fashion / fashion, craft, vintage, design / madeline newport / mysterydesigner / re-modelling / repurposing / weddings

Old photo, brings new clues….

and new threads to follow, (corny but I couldn’t resist).

I’m excited to have the original photo of the dress worn by the bride on her wedding day in 1957.  I’m not going to show you the photo just yet because the bride-to-be and I feel that it would be a spoiler for the finished dress. So I’m going to tease you with small visual details and descriptions. I can tell you that the photograph was taken outside St Michael’s church in Vaucluse, Sydney.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.00.36 pm

Edmund Blackett designed sandstone church, St Michael’s Vaucluse, Sydney

The church was designed by Edmund Blackett and opened in 1877. He is the architect of some important Sydney buildings including buildings for Sydney University, St Andrew’s cathedral and more.

Just reading a very well written and thorough article about Blackett in Wikipaedia so interesting to read that he lived in places that I lived in; Balmain, Glebe and Petersham. Of course my abodes were a lot less grand.

Back to the church…some very famous Australians have been married here, including Margaret and Gough Whitlam in 1942. They went on to become two of the most loved and controversial public figures in Australian history as Prime Minister and wife of the 1972-75 Labour government.


Gough Whitlam marries Margaret Dovey 1942, St Michael’s church Vaucluse


Margaret is wearing a dress that was typical of wartime wedding dresses. Puffed sleeves, a high neckline with gathering under the bust. The skirt is columnar and not too full. I love the covered button detailing on the side closure of her dress. The decorative feature is a flat ribbon design with bows placed around the bodice neckline and sleeves. The fabric looks very luxurious and might even have been parachute silk as luxury fabrics were hard to find at the height of World War II.

I wonder who made her dress?

What did it mean to be married in this church? I’m not quite sure and will need to do some more research. Did it mean you were part of Sydney society or wanted to be part of it? It does seem to have been a popular choice for establishment weddings of the time.And it does give me some clues about the wearer of the Madeline Newport dress and where to find more information.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s