When it comes to fashion, few garments are as fantasized about, meticulously designed and forever cherished as the wedding dress. The Victoria & Albert Museum has opened a new exhibition, Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, featuring over 80 of the most romantic, glamorous and extravagant wedding outfits from the V&A’s collection. The exhibition highlights the histories of the dresses, revealing fascinating details about the lives of the wearers and offering an intimate insight into their circumstances and fashion choices. Designs by Charles Frederick Worth, Norman Hartnell, Charles James, John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood and Vera Wang offer a panorama of fashion over the last two centuries.
[Heavy cream embroidered corded silk wedding dress and trained skirt made after Paquin Lalanne et Cie, Paris and worn by an American heiress in 1890. Photo: V&A]
Drawing on outstanding collections of wedding gowns, the opening section of the exhibition features 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. White, the color most associated with wedding dresses in western cultures for over 200 years, is highlighted by an early 19th century white muslin wedding dress decorated with flowers, leaves and berries (1807) recently acquired by the V&A, and an outstanding wedding outfit embellished with pearl beads design by Charles Frederick Worth (1880). As the 19th century drew to a close, historical costume influenced fashion and the design of wedding dresses. A fine example is a copy of a Paris model designed by Paquin Lalanne et Cie made by Stern Brothers of New York (1890) for an American bride. Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 is featured at the V & A until March 15, 2015. In addition, you can explore a Pinterest board of wedding dresses from the V&A collections.