28 Jul 2014

Yes, I do.

Wedding Dresses

Today, brides of many faiths and nationalities wears white dresses to celebrate their marriages.
The globalization of fashion and the strenght of the wedding dress industry have contributed to this phenomenon and the white dress has become a universal symbol of the bride.

18th Century. Britain.
Royals and Aristocracy brides favoured silks woven with gold and silver colours. Some brides used often pattern of flowers.

Block printed cotton Wedding Dress, 1841
Robe a la Francaise, British. 1780

19th century.
White dress become more fashionable, Queen Victoria's decision to wear White when she married Prince Albert on 10 february 1840 was a signifcant public moment in the history of the wedding dress.
Queen Victoria Wedding Dress, 1840.
Marketing Wedding fashion

The methods used by dressmakers and retailers to show potential clients images of wedding dress changed as technology did. 
In the early 1800's, fashions plates were published in magazines alongside leghthy descriptions of the latest styles from Paris and London.

Edwardian era Bride, Fashion plate. 1902

20th Century
During the Edwardian period (1901-1911) bridal style began to take their inspiration from the cut, fabric and decoration of evening wear. 

Charles Frederick Worth was Paris's leading dressmaker in the mid-to-late 1800s. His international clientele included wealthy Americans like Clara Mathews, who chose this dress when she married in 1880. Artificial pearls were a newly fashionable trimming for wedding gowns.
This trend became more pronounced after the First World War, when daywear became practical and informal. wedding dresses in shade of white and cream remainded very popular, but pastel and metallic colours became fashionables alternatives.

Velvet for winter
In  the 1920's,   Metallic lames, lace, and a pale gold and shell -pink fabrics were fashionable for bridal and evening dress.
Maud Cecil's Wedding Gown for her marriage to Greville Steel, Nov. 1927.

In the 1920's and 1930's, Britain benefited from the presence of young designers such as Norman Hartnell, who established couture houses in London using french and british staff.

After the First World War, the composition of british high society changed. Family connections and wealth remainded importance. In the 1930's, gossips columnists and news photographers played important roles in creating and sustainting the images of socialites. 

High Society beauty Margareth Whigham wore this magnigicent  Hartnell-dress when she married Charles Sweeney  in 1933.

In September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. As the WWII advanced, commodity shortages and the rising cost of clothes led to rationing in June 1941, So designers were keep prices down and ensure a fair distribution on clothing.

Brides had to be practical. Some married in white by borrowing or hiring dress. Other made dress from unrationed materials such as upholstery fabrics, net curtains, ect.

The British fashion industry hoped that the war would reduce Paris's dominance of the international fashion market, but Christian Dior's debut collection in 1947 dashed their hopes.

Christian Dior's model and muse Kouka shows off the Hymenee wedding dress during a presentation, 1952

1960-1970 innovation & inviduality.
After WWII, the quality ready-to-wear clothing challenged couturier's dominance of the high fashion market.
In the 60's, A wave of young British designers with new ideas. Bridal wear retained a degree of formality. Wedding dresses drew on day and evening fashions and were offered in a range of legths, acording to fashion. In the 70's, Hats were promoted as a youthful alternative to the traditional veil and wreath.

For her second marriage to Andrea Dotti, Audrey Hepburn wore a hot pink mini dress with maching head scarf.

1970/80 "Nostalgia, romance and modern age"
In the 70's, most bridal wear designers took their cue from vogue romantic dresses inspired by every era from the Victorian period to the 1940's.
By the 1980's, it led to designs based more on fantasy than fashion, dresses that had little use after the ceremony. Lady Diana spencer fairy tale wedding dress, designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel for her wedding in 1981 to the price of Wales, encouraged this vogue and inspired many copies.

Farrah Fawcett and her husband Lee Majors on their wedding day in 1973.

A fresh approach.
In the 1990's, the American designer Vera wang helped to revitalised the link between mainstream bridal wear and fashion.

Carolyn Bessette asked close friend (and then-unknown designer) Narciso Rodriguez to design the gown she wore to marry John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996. The resulting simple bias cut silk dress launched his career and cemented her status as a new style icon.

2000/2014 new century.
While many wedding continue to follow tradition, another couples today often create their own ceremonies. This reflects the secularisation of western society, the relevance of second marriages, cultural mix of countries, same-sex couples ceremonies, etc.

Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi were married in the backyard of their Beverly Hills home, 2008.

The celebrities wedding.
Interest in celebrities weddings has soared since the 1990's encouraged by popular magazines such as Ok!! Bridal magazines regularly feature high profile weddings, alongside advice to woman on how to organise their own.

Gold embrodered Gown by John Galliano, worn by Kate Moss for her marriage to Jamie Hince, 2011

Wedding Dresses 1775 - 2014 Exhibition
3 may 2014 - 15 March 2015
V&A Museum - London