V&A Museum Presents – Wedding Dresses 1775-2014

Pale grey slashed chiffon wedding dress designed by Gareth Pugh and veil by Stephen Jones, 2011 Worn by Katie Shillingford for her marriage to Alex Dromgoole  Artist: Courtesy of Katie Shillingford.   Date: 2011Photo © Amy Gwatkin
Pale grey slashed chiffon wedding dress designed by Gareth Pugh and veil by Stephen Jones, 2011 Worn by Katie Shillingford for her marriage to Alex Dromgoole Artist: Courtesy of Katie Shillingford. Date: 2011Photo © Amy Gwatkin

Currently on view at the V&A Museum in London is Wedding Dresses 1775-2014. The exhibition will feature over 80 of the most romantic, glamorous and extravagant wedding outfits from the V&A’s collection.

It will include important new acquisitions as well as loans such as the embroidered silk coat design by Anna Valentine and worn by The Duchess of Cornwall for the blessing after her marriage to HRH The Prince of Wales (2005), the purple Vivienne Westwood dress, chosen by Dita Von Teese (2005) and the Dior outfits worn by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale on their wedding day (2002).

Displayed chronologically over two floors, the exhibition will focus on bridal wear, predominately worn in Britain, by brides of many faiths. Alongside the dresses will be accessories including jewelry, shoes, garters, veils, wreaths, hats and corsetry as well as fashion sketches and personal photographs. Garments worn by bridegrooms and attendants will also be on display.

The opening section of the exhibition will feature some of the earliest examples of wedding fashion including a silk satin court dress (1775) and a ‘polonaise’ style brocade gown with straw bergère hat (1780) lent by the Chertsey Museum. The preference for white in the 19th century will be demonstrated by a white muslin wedding dress decorated with flowers, leaves and berries (1807) recently acquired by the V&A and a wedding outfit embellished with pearl beads design by Charles Frederick Worth (1880).

Designs from the 1920s and 1930s will illustrate the glamour of bridal wear that was now influenced by evening fashions. Dresses were slim-hipped and made from richly beaded textured fabrics and slinky bias-cut satin.

The mezzanine level will feature wedding garments from 1960 to 2014, taking the exhibition right up to date with Spring/Summer 2014 designs by Jenny Packham and Temperley Bridal. Emphasizing the glamour and spectacle of weddings today, key designers will include Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Lanvin and Vera Wang with millinery by Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones.

Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 will also explore the growth of the wedding industry and the effect of increasing media focus on wedding fashions. Improvements in photography in the early 20th century encouraged photojournalism and society weddings were reported in detail in the national press and gossip columns. The exhibition is on view now through March 2015 www.vam.ac.uk/

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