When it comes to wedding dress shopping, brides are faced with a flurry of questions: Where should I look? What kind of style should I go for? What fabric? And which variation of white is best? For artist Hester Cox, all these questions were answered by The Map Lady, also known as Sara Jane Murray, although not in the way that you’d think. Murray runs Home Front Vintage, a business that specializes in repurposing escape and evasion silk maps. During World War II and the Cold War, pilots and Special Forces tucked these maps away in their uniforms to escape enemy territory and find their way back home. When Cox first requested a custom dress for a wedding, The Map Lady was a little concerned about her outshining the bride but was pleased to learn that the wedding was her own. Below you will find photos of her special day, featuring her beautifully crafted wedding dress, by photographer Jo Denison.Printmaker Hester Cox met Sara Jane Murray, or the Map Lady, at a British craft fair last year. Murray specializes in rescuing genuine silk escape and evasion maps. How does she do this? She remakes them into special gifts, accessories, and clothing through her business Home Front Vintage.
According to the Home Front Vintage website, these maps were issues to the RAF and Special Forces in World War II and other battles. The maps were sewed inside the lining of the soldiers’ uniforms or hidden in their boots in case they ever had to escape enemy territory. They were sometimes concealed in board games, donations sent to POWs.
Pleased with the beauty and meaning of her work, Cox requested a custom dress for her summer wedding.
One might wonder, ‘How does Murray print the maps onto silk?’ According to her official website, she doesn’t! She uses genuine maps, which were already printed onto silk for the military in the 1940s and 50s.
Cox presented a simple sleeveless v-neck dress that she already had, which Murray used as a model for her wedding dress.
The two can now ‘escape’ to their new home as a married couple. Murray was hoping to share history and forgotten stories through her work, and she’s definitely been able to achieve that.