How to Make a Dress – Jenny Packham

Published by: Ebury Press
Pages: 272
Date released: 04/03/2021
Date read: 06/03/2021

Jenny Packham is one of Britain’s leading designers and most in-demand couturiers, known for her exquisite dresses made for brides, celebrities and even royalty. In How to Make a Dress, she explores her creative journey in a brilliant meditation on life and style.

Beginning with the search for creative inspiration and taking us into her studio then onto the red carpet and beyond, she asks the questions that have preoccupied us for centuries: What makes the perfect dress? What do our clothes mean to us? And why do we dress the way we do?

Whether she is on the trail of Marilyn Monroe in LA, designed a bespoke piece for the red carpet or sketching for a new collection, Jenny documents her pursuit of the eternal truths of style. Decades in the making, How to Make a Dress is an unforgettable book for anyone who has ever loved a piece of clothing.

Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t simply Packham’s to-do list on how to make a garment – although that would have made for great reading also.

It is a beautifully cleverly written book that contains so much of her own heart and soul. She seamlessly weaves moments from her personal life, her family life, her loves and griefs, into the fantasy world of creating couture clothes for A-Listers and royalty.

Do you remember the sparkly pink gown the Duchess of Cambridge wore for her first evening event after becoming Royal? That was Jenny Packham. Or the teal dress with a sheer lace back? Jenny Packham. Or how about the full-length green dress she wore on the royal tour of Pakistan? Oh…that would be Jenny Packham.

She tells us of the hardships she’s faced and the negativity she has witnessed. She is never negative or spiteful to people who don’t sing her praises, but it is her silence that tells you this world is not all sequins and glitter and glamour.

As someone who designs clothes in her spare time, and longs to make something of it, this book is like a godsend to me. It is a must read for anyone interested in design, or anyone who loves clothes, or anyone who simply wish they could get out of their sweatpants.

A book about dresses might seem trivial, especially at a time like this, but I think it is because of what’s happening around the world at the moment that a book about dresses is exactly what we need.

And as a side note, even though I knew wildlife presenter Chris Packham is Jenny’s brother before I read this, every time I read about it, I always go “really?”, and why not? They’re both clearly very talented and very creative and very passionate about the worlds they have created and invited us into.

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