Go: V&A Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 Exhibition

In London we really are so fortunate to have an abundance of stupendously wonderful galleries and museums. The Victoria and Albert Museum is no exception. There is an array of fashion and history to feast your senses on for free let alone the exponentially wonderful charged exhibitions. My mother and I have, for years, made a day out of going to an exhibition usually accompanied with food and, but of course, wine. When we lived in Surrey it was really a full day's activities. Now in Wimbledon the journey time has decreased so a visit to the V&A, and the obligatory glass of wine, can be completed in just an afternoon.
The exhibition we were off to this time was the Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 at the V&A. Entry is free for members (yay for us) or £13.50 otherwise. To travel through time, hopping from moment to moment, that was so special to each woman that wore each dress showcased, is really quite magical. The centuries changed, the styles changed, but do hearts ever change? Having not ever been married myself, I can only compare the feeling of being in love. I imagine factors such as whether you wore a muslin, lace or silk wedding dress do not differentiate how each woman felt on her wedding day. With that in mind its quite something to be let in on such a momentous, hopefully happy day of so many women through the ages. I am aware of the naivety of such imaginations, I'm sure not every bride was excited to be wed what with the culture of being married off or circumstantial weddings and so on. Taking a moment and thinking of these different scenarios gave a poignant edge to an otherwise romantic exhibition. A poignant edge that made me appreciative for the modern attitude to marriage in Western society. Yet the progress that is still to be made to ensure young girls aren't forced into marriage, or worse, sold remained prevalent in my mind. Further progress for legalising gay marriage is necessary, still. There is a long way to go, but my haven't we come far?
Back in the 18th Century the dresses are not what we would define as glamorous with thick heavy materials and unusual shoulder shapes but they were special in a different way. The dearer dresses introduced elaborate designs in the many layers of the wedding dresses around the shoulder and chest. After Queen Victoria got married there was a rise in the promotion of British produce, ignited by HRH. Lace that was made in Devon then became a big trend.
I cannot move on from this era without mentioning the, what can only be described as, peculiar body shapes. The women were absolutely tiny both in height and width. We truly are getting taller each generation! 
Next I found the execution more recognisable, dresses we would find on brides today although undoubtedly with more advanced craftsmanship. The first dress I feature below was worn in 1934 and is the dress I would be most inclined to wear myself. The next dress was from the first collection of wedding dresses sold in department store Debenhams and Freebody. At this point store bought dresses competed with couture.
Moving upstairs in the exhibition the celebrity dresses can be found. The purple extravaganza was worn by Dita Von Teese when she wed Marilyn Manson in Vivienne Westwood (but who else?). Next is a sparkly crystal explosion by Temperley that just, quite simply, stunned. Ian Stuart's 'Flowerbomb' maintained exquisite detail to the end of the train with autumnal looking leaves and petals. I particularly like the idea of wearing a bold coloured shoe. Mixing tradition, obeying conventions and adding your unique spice sounds the perfect approach to a wedding for me. My case in point is with the beautiful silver prayer book that was an heirloom of the bride's family. Instead of a bouquet of flowers she held this meaningful and unique token of her family. Isn't that the perfect combination of the present, your heritage and a splash of individuality?
Having finished the exhibition Mum and I walked around the corner where we had an idyllic time of people watching with a white Rioja at Fernandez and Wells. This is our favourite place to have cheese and wine over in Somerset House but the outdoor table space in Kensington has it's own charm. All in all an excellent afternoon, and we even got back to Wimbledon in time for more drinks!

This entry was posted on Monday, 19 May 2014 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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