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Image / Editorial

All The Gowns

by Jeanne Sutton
23rd Feb 2014

Silk brocade gown and petticoat, silk covered straw hat and silk satin shoes, 1780 Worn by Jane Bailey for her marriage to James Wickham. Photograph by John Chase.

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Interesting tidbit for your Sunday. The white wedding dress, the one that induces swells of wow in even the most hardened of cynics, only became de rigueur in the early nineteenth century. Moving into the Victorian age it became a standard and widespread practice that has thrived and flourished to this day, the centerpiece of the mammoth modern day wedding industry.

The consistently fabulous V&A museum in London has decided to document this journey of the white dress in an exhibition entitled Wedding Dresses 1775-2014. It will?encompass garters, bridegroom’s suits, corsets, headpieces, personal photographs and the piece de resistance, the bridal outfit itself. Appearing alongside this array of gowns will be the stories of the dresses and the women who wore them, contextualizing the contemporary sartorial choices.

With one of the earliest dresses in the collection dating from a country wedding in 1780 (the bride’s name was Jane Bailey, her father was a wealthy farmer, her groom one James Wickham), the exhibition follows the changes in wedding customs and captures the bedlam of the 1930s socialite and the dawn of the celebrity wedding. The Duchess of Argyll’s wedding in 1933 brought traffic to a standstill, such was the noise surrounding her prototype IT girl status.

Featuring over 80 of the most glamorous dresses in the V&A collection and high profile loans, some of the modern gowns on show include the Duchess of Cornwall’s silk Anna Valentine coat, Gwen Stefani’s pink Dior number and creations from Jean Muir and Vera Wang, as well as millinery by Philip Treacey.

And for those who like their museum shop souvenirs, a sumptuous looking exhibition book The Wedding Dress: 300 Years of Bridal Fashion, edited by lead curator Edwina Ehrman, will be available for your bringing home perusal.

The exhibition opens early May. Also, check out this gorgeous pinterest board of some of the dresses. Our personal favourite? That rebellious scarlet number from 1938.

Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun

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