‘I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.’ – Ralph Lauren
Between Ireland, London and New York, The Dress by Kate Kerrigan weaves together the intertwining stories of three generations of women who are linked by one legendary garment.
In 1950s New York, the beautiful socialite Joy Fitzpatrick is doing everything she can to make her husband happy and decides that a new dress will help her achieve this aim. She hires fledgling Irish designer Honor Conlon to design and make it for her.
In modern day London, vintage fashion blogger Lily Fitzpatrick comes across the extraordinary story of The Dress and challenges herself to bring the iconic piece of fashion history back to life.This is not just a story about a dress, but also one of ambition, love and relationships.
I really enjoyed the historical scenes set in the 50s; with the descriptions of the fashion and the elite society parties, there is a great sense of opulence and glamour which was a great stage for the emotional journeys of the main characters. The modern day bits are equally interesting with the glimpses of modern technology and the fashion industry alongside Lily and love for vintage couture.
As for The Dress, it sounds like it would be a marvel of a garment. I have always liked textiles and although I’ll never be a fashion designer, I’ve always been interested by the construction of clothes. As Joy and Honor work on their beloved dress together, you can picture all the stunning elements that are carefully pieced together to create their life-changing dress. The descriptions are fabulous; rich silk, delicate lace, sparkling jewels, pretty pearls and twinkling sequins thoughtfully arranged for maximum wow factor.
The way The Dress is re-imagined for the modern day scenes is thoughtfully written, as there is so much more emotion attached to the article. All the characters are so well defined and you can imagine them as people you might know in real life, making you care about the story even more.
Fashion aside, the characters have some rollercoaster moments; tough relationships, betrayal, addiction and so there are lots of life lessons learnt. I think Joy was my favourite character; she’s beautiful and seemingly lives a dream life, but she is actually a complex character and it is only a matter of time before her issues catch up with her.
With striking imagery, interesting characters and a stunning storyline, The Dress is a moving novel clashing the past with the present in an unforgettable story of couture and destiny.