Gown worn by three gen­er­a­tions

Chinchilla News - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN Marnie Leahy stepped out in a vin­tage gown at Miles debu­tante ball on Satur­day night every­one let out a col­lec­tive gasp.

The 17-year-old is the third gen­er­a­tion of women in her fam­ily to wear the mint-con­di­tion debu­tante gown, worn by her mother and grand­mother to make their de­buts.

Her grand­mother, Marie Gore, first wore the dress in Chin­chilla in 1961 fol­lowed by Marnie’s mother, Polly Leahy, more than 20 years later in 1988.

“I made my de­but here in Chin­chilla in the town hall, which was the old sol­diers hall, and there was no ce­ment or any­thing out the front of the hall and the dirt was about that deep so my cousin, John Ben­der, picked me up and car­ried me in,” Mrs Gore said.

The dress was cre­ated by lo­cal seam­stress Rita French, who still lives in Chin­chilla, for a lo­cal bride and con­sists of a satin pet­ti­coat, a three-lay­ered tulle skirt worn over a hoop, a gath­ered tulle over­lay with hand-sewn flow­ers and a bodice of guipure lace.

“She made it for a lady who was get­ting mar­ried and the hus­band was work­ing on the rail­way with my dad, so this man came out and said to me ‘I hear you’re mak­ing your de­but’ and he said ‘have you got a dress?’... that was the start of it and then I wrapped it in a flan­nelette sheet and put it in a port and car­ried it around with me for years,” Mrs Gore said.

“Some­one said to me ‘the tulle must be rot­ten by now’ but it isn’t and when I was sewing the flow­ers back on to the tulle the other day my hands were so sore.”

Mrs Gore said the dress was a “show stop­per” and that it was “ab­so­lutely won­der­ful” her grand-daugh­ter had car­ried on the tra­di­tion and cho­sen to wear the dress to her debu­tante ball.

“She tried it on and it fit­ted like a glove ex­cept for the pet­ti­coat, so all I had to do was let it out at the waist a bit,” she said.

“Pay­ton, Marnie’s younger sis­ter, she gave Marnie a lec­ture the other night about rough­ing up the dress be­cause she wants to wear it yet.”

Miss Leahy said she didn’t know her grand­mother had kept the dress un­til it came time for her to choose a debu­tante gown.

“To be hon­est when Mum said ‘you can wear my dress’... I was like ‘it’s go­ing to be re­ally old’ be­cause I hadn’t seen it. Then I tried it on and I was in love with it,” she said.

“I felt very spe­cial, every­one was com­ing up and say­ing it was so pretty.”


BEAUTY: Polly Leahy, Marnie Leahy and Marie Gore with the dress they all wore to their debu­tante balls.

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