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Ely Cathedral

King's Ely pupil creates a dress fit for royalty

18-year-old Libby Chessor took inspiration from Gothic cathedrals to design a wedding dress for her A-level textiles coursework

Posted by Lucinda Reid | April 02, 2017 | School life

A cathedral used as the backdrop for the Royal Wedding scenes in Golden Globe winning drama series The Crown, inspired a King’s Ely pupil to create a bridal gown and veil based on the building’s stunning Gothic architecture.

Libby Chessor, who is 18 and a boarder at King’s Ely, 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 Chessor with the dress

“As a full-time chorister, the cathedral plays a big part in my school life,” explained Libby. “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 - Libby Chessor, boarder at King’s Ely

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” said Libby. 

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. 

Alison Rhodes, Director of Art at King’s Ely, praised Libby for the ambitiousness and originality of her design.

“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,” said Alison. 

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. 

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