Thursday, August 4, 2011

The White Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashions

The Bendigo Art Gallery has just opened their latest international show to the public on Monday the 1st, from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
During the 1830’s white muslin was very popular for wedding dresses, as was embroidered silks and lace. Contrasting with these delicate and detailed pieces were colored and printed dresses, as some woman could not afford anything else, these fabrics were quite accessible to them.

Complementing the gowns were various accessories including wedding bonnets from the 19th century, which also included the “going-away bonnet” for the honeymoon. The bonnets were adorned with ribbons, wax & paper flowers representing orange-blossoms which was a tradition during those times. Other accessories were embroidered muslin handkerchiefs, paper fans, wedding favors, wreaths and a silk wedding bag. All were just as detailed and delicate as the gowns.

During the 1880’s dresses had a more interesting cut and elaborate decoration including silk gauze drapery, and hand embroidered with glass beads. They would be worn with shoes or ankle boots made from silk and leather. The footwear was fairly narrow suggesting they had small feet in those times; their waists were also tiny from wearing corsets.

It was all so amazing to see so much detail, patience, skill and love be poured into the creation of these gowns. Most would glisten under the light due to the glass beads or metallic thread, it was all so gorgeous.

One interesting dress; due to its color, was a Red Wedding Dress from 1938 which was unusual at the time but the woman hope it reflected her pleasure in the color and her independence. It had contrasted heaps to the white and vintage colors of the earlier designs.

Included in the White Wedding Dress is a handful of celebrity dress’s including Gwen Stefani’s 2002 dress by John Galliano for Dior {which is half spray painted pink}, Dita von Teese’s Wedding Corset plus her purple dress which she commissioned Vivienne Westwood to create.

The last room of the exhibition is The Australian Aesthetic 1822 – 2011 which included more modern designs from Fashion Houses in Melbourne and Sydney. One in particular used a painted splat tee shirt and tulle, plus another dress using wool with crystal glass beads. The late 20th Century designs moved forward and were more individual than traditional.

The White Wedding Dress is on until November 6th at the Bendigo Art Gallery. For information on coinciding events & ticket prices head to

 ^ Photograph courtesy of the Bendigo Art Gallery. Embroidered silk satin wedding dress designed by Norman Hartnell, London, 1933. Commissioned by Margaret Whigham for her marriage to Charles Sweeny on 21 February 1933. Given and worn by Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. ©Victoria and Albert Museum/V&A Images

1 comment:

REread said...

looks like an awesome exhibition!