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Vintage Stories: A Rainbow dream wedding

When I came across a photo of a gorgeous bride in a floor length rainbow cape on Facebook I had to get in touch to ask more about this incredible outfit. The owner of the cape is Sara Nesbitt Gibbons and she has shared the story behind this smile inducing outfit.

Sara was planning in advance what to wear for her wedding to her fiancé James and had her heart set on an intricate beaded lace cape by Irish designer Alice Halliday. Coming back down to earth Sara realised that the combination of her two small children, an outdoor venue in the Kent countryside and a chocolate wedding cake was probably not the ideal combination for a delicate white cape. As a made do and mend fan who writes a blog on reducing waste Sara thought how she could use something she already had.

Sara’s mum, Nico was a hoarder of clothes. A trait Sara inherited, which lead her to write start her blog ‘why so many clothes‘ and explore why she was keeping hold of items. To help her declutter, Sara says ‘I wore everything in my wardrobe to figure out what it meant and why I kept hold of it, which has meant I’ve been able to let go of a lot more clothes than I used to be able to’. What a genius idea! It was thanks to this project that Sara delved into a forgotten bag her mother had given her before she sadly died of cancer in 2012. A wash of rainbow colours spilled out onto the floor, sparking Sara’s memory. She remembered seeing her mum looking like a film star in a rainbow catsuit, cummberband and matching full length cape. Sadly, Sara doesn’t have a photo of her mum in the full outfit but shared the¬†below photo of the two of them having fun at a festival in matching cat suits.

The outfit had been a gift from her own mother, Sara’s Grandmother. ‘Mum described it as something her mum had picked up from a graduate show and held onto until she was old enough to wear it. She didn’t know who the designer was but I found out by accident. I posted a picture on the Facebook Group Make-do-and-mend and someone commented that their mum has a dress in the same distinctive fabric. She told me the outfit was by iconic designer Jean Varon, who also made some of Diana Rigg’s outfits for the Avengers’.

‘In my head I remembered the cape being more of a capelet but when I realised it was a full length, sheer, flowing rainbow cape, it was absolutely perfect for our rainbow themed low waste wedding. My mum had wanted to wear the whole outfit as the Mother of the Bride so it felt right to have her cape around my shoulders as I walked up the aisle. Sara remembers her mum wearing the rainbow catsuit again for her sixtieth birthday with a black velvet jacket ‘she looked so striking’.


There was a slight pull in the seam of the hood, which Sara had fixed whilst it was being cleaned at her local dry cleaners. ‘It was a very tense few days being parted from the cape.’ Sara describes the outfit as being extremely special ‘A symbol of love across generations and I hope my own daughters will be able to enjoy wearing them one day.

Click here to read Sara’s blog and find out her tips on how to plan a low-cost wedding.

Wedding photos of Sara and James by Tracy Morter.