The base fabrics will be embroidered in India by around 20 skilled “zardosi” embroiderers. The entire embroidery work will take three to four weeks to complete. The skirt will be embroidered in one piece: a large expanse of fabric will be rolled up and stretched on a frame, and the embroiderers will work from the middle outwards, unrolling as they go, so that the goldwork is not crushed.
It will then be flown to England, where I will cut, assemble and complete the gown, to be worn over recreations of the elaborate and beautiful underthings of the period.
Above left is my own embroidery sample, and above right, the sample completed by the Indian embroiderers. To illustrate the skill and experience of the Indian craftsmen, it should be noted that working alone, it would have taken me 30,000 hours to complete the embroidery for the whole dress, working at my fumbling amateur rate, whereas they will take around 8400 hours. In other words, the pros work three to four times faster than I do!