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Wedding Dresses JKT F-Furt:Wedding Dresses JKT Ffurt x228/9/1012:41Page 1E DW I N A E H R M A N is Curator of Textilesand Fashion at the V&A. She is a specialist innineteenth-century fashion with a particularinterest in London.400 Years of Fashion Natalie RothsteinJewels and Jewellery Clare PhillipsPrinted in XxxxxxTHE WEDDING DRESSUnderwear: Fashion in Detail Eleri Lynn3 0 Y E A R S O F B R I DA L FA S H I O N SAlso available from V&A Publishing:E DW I N AEHRMANV&A PublishingVictoria and Albert MuseumSouth KensingtonLondon SW7 SF300 YEARSO F B R I DA LFA S H I O N SEdwina EhrmanEW GARMENTS are chosen with as muchcare as wedding dresses. The weddingdress is an expression of the bride-tobe’s identity but some women invest their dresswith almost magical qualities seeing the rightchoice as a talisman of their future happiness.It is a symbol of love and commitment and ofthe beginning of a new phase in a woman’s life.Wedding dresses also reflect the societiesand cultures that created and preserved themand this sumptuous book draws on survivingwedding garments in the V&A’s collection,photographs, letters, memoirs, newspaperaccounts and genealogical research to explorethe history of the wedding dress and thetraditions that have developed around it from1700 to the present day. It focuses on the whitewedding dress which became fashionable in theearly nineteenth century and is worn today bywomen across the world. The book considersthe way couturiers and designers havechallenged and refreshed the traditionalwhite wedding dress and the influence of thewedding industry, whose antecedents lie inthe commercialization of the wedding inVictorian Britain.TheWedding Dress is not only about costume,but also about the cultivation of the image ofthe bride. This book is a tribute to an exquisite,stylish, glamorous gown, the romance of itsevolution and the splendour of its design. 30.00

Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v4:Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v46/1/1114:36Page 2THEWEDDING DRESS300 YEARS OF BRIDAL FASHIONSEdwina EhrmanV&A PUBLISHING

Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v4:Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v46/1/1114:36Page 4CONTENTSFirst published by V&A Publishing, 2011V&A PublishingVictoria and Albert MuseumSouth KensingtonLondon SW7 2RLIntroductionCHAPTER 1Distributed in North America by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New YorkSilver and White1700–90 The Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2011The moral right of the authors has been asserted.CHAPTER 2Hardback editionISBN 978 1 85177 632 0The White Wedding Dress1790–1840Library of Congress Control Number XXXXXXX10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 12015 2014 2013 2012 2011CHAPTER 3A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Allrights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, storedin a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meanselectronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, withoutwritten permission of the publishers.Every effort has been made to seek permission to reproduce thoseimages whose copyright does not reside with the V&A, and we aregrateful to the individuals and institutions who have assisted in this task.Any omissions are entirely unintentional, and the details should beaddressed to V&A Publishing.Designer: Nigel SoperCopy-editor: Mark KilfoyleIndex: Vicki RobinsonNew photography by Richard Davis, V&A Photographic StudioFront jacket illustration: Cotton organdie wedding dress designed byHardy Amies for the Cotton Board, 1953. Photograph by John French.(c) V&A Images.Back jacket illustration: Jean Paul Gaultier, Haute CoutureSpring/Summer 2010 (c) Anthea Sims PhotographyFrontispiece: Wedding dress, 1950s. Photograph by Lillian Bassman.V&A: PH.12–1986p.6: Wedding favour. Wax, cloth, paper and silk, British, 1889.V&A: T.266A–1971. Given by Mrs V.I. LewinPrinted in XXXX7A working-class weddingCommercializing the White Wedding1840–1914Too old for white2139606396CHAPTER 4Towards the Modern1914–45To wed in red99126CHAPTER 5Ready-to-Wear1945–90A civil wedding129158CHAPTER 6Choosing White1990s to the present161Wedding Garments in the V&AGlossaryNotesFurther ReadingAcknowledgementsIndex188198199203203204

Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v4:Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v46/1/1114:36Page 82 Silk satin wedding dress(front and back) by NormanHartnell, London, 1933.Margaret Whighamcommissioned the dress fromthe celebrated couturier forher marriage to CharlesSweeny on 21 February 1933.V&A: T.836–1974. Given and worn byMargaret, Duchess of Argyll1 Margaret Whighamand Charles Sweeny, 1933.Darlings of the gossipcolumns, the glamorouscouple brought traffic to astandstill when they marriedat London’s BromptonOratory. As Duchess of Argyll,Whigham would later be thesubject of a notorious divorcecase. Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIStigious and fashionable bridal colours until whitebecame the colour of choice in the early nineteenthcentury. As the dominant religion in Britain andFrance (whose bridal fashions influenced those wornin Britain for most of the period the book covers),Christianity’s association of white with innocence andpurity was an important symbolic factor. Even today,in Britain’s increasingly secular society, the whitewedding dress has lingering connotations of virginity.White garments were associated with spiritual ritesof passage long before they became conventional forbridal wear. Babies have been dressed in white robesfor the sacrament of baptism when they are initiatedinto the Christian faith since the eighteenth century.The choice of white garments may be linked to thepre-Reformation use of the white chrisom-cloth,which was placed on the baby’s head or wrappedaround its body after baptism and symbolized itsinnocence.4 Children who died within a month ofbaptism were buried in the chrisom-cloth, and white8THE WEDDING DRESSINTRODUCTION9

Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v4:Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v46/1/1114:36Page 1610 African wedding inCosta do Sol, Maputo,Mozambique, 2004. Thespread of Christianity hasencouraged many Africanbrides to wear whitewedding dresses.Photograph by Corina Gertz. Corina Gertz11 Japanese weddingat Kaiyukan AquariumMaki and NobuyukiTamanishi, Osaka, 29 July2006. The white weddingdress has become a globalphenomenon. Japanesebrides often hire a white dressas one of several outfits towear during the course oftheir marriage celebrations. 2006 AFP / Getty Imagesduce something more idiosyncratic, making more personal juxtapositions and annotating the images.Whatever form they take, photographs also becomea material part of a family’s history. Turning the pagesof a wedding album or handling a specially framedphotograph that marks the occasion can create a powerful tangible link between past and present.Weddings and wedding dresses remain a perennial cultural interest. Every year newspapers andmagazines feature articles about weddings. They frequently cite the latest statistics about marriage inmodern Britain. According to the Office for NationalStatistics the provisional number of marriages registered in England and Wales in 2008 was 232,990.(When the full figure is known this is expected to riseby up to 1%.) This is the lowest marriage rate since itwas first calculated in 1862. However the divorce rateis at its lowest rate since 1979, suggesting that thosewho choose to marry are more committed to makingit work.11 For women who decide to marry in churchrather than in a registry office, wearing white symbol-16THE WEDDING DRESS12 British weddingin Wiltshire, Edward andNina Tryon, Church of St Maryand St Nicholas, Wilton,19 July 2008. Philip Treacydesigned the bride’sheaddress and VivienneWestwood her dress.Photograph by Kevin Davies. Kevin Daviesizes their commitment to marriage but also fulfils anemotional need, making them feel like a brideembarking on a new phase of their life. Women whohave worn white for their weddings talk about itsromantic, fairy-tale appeal and talismanic qualities, butabove all of how it miraculously transformed them intoa bride. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the white wedding dress was the preserve ofwell-to-do women in Europe and the USA, but todayit is worn by brides of many faiths across the world tocelebrate their marriages (pls 10–15). The commercialization of weddings, particularly in the Middle Eastand East Asia, and the globalization of fashion hasfuelled this trend. In Christian communities the religious associations of the white wedding dress remainimportant, but for women of other faiths the whitewedding dress today is a symbol of wealth, status,modernity and romantic love.INTRODUCTION17

Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v4:Wedding Dress 1 pp1-37 v46/1/1114:36Page 3023 Silk satin court dress(front and back), British,1775–80. This dress wasassociated by the donor with awedding. It may have beenworn for a very formal privateevening ceremony but it ismore likely that it was worn forthe bride’s presentation atcourt following her marriage.V&A: T.2&A–1947prettiest silk I ever saw – and richly trimm’d withsilver, festooned and betassel’d’.18 Silks that incorporated metal threads were prized for the beautifuleffects created by light reflecting from their texturedsurfaces. They were expensive and only the wealthiest could afford them and had occasion to wearthem. The royal adoption of silver, and white andsilver, for weddings along with its high cost undoubtedly gave the colour combination additional kudos.Commissioning expensive new clothes for court wasunderstood as a mark of respect and allegiance to thecrown, and it is likely that women who followedroyal precedent and wore white and silver for theirpresentation as brides did so in the same spirit.19The V&A has two eighteenth-century dressesassociated with weddings which are appropriate forwearing at court. One is connected to the marriageof Isabella (b.1716) daughter of William Courtenay,5th Earl of Devon, who married Dr John Andrew(1711–72) at Exeter Cathedral on 14 May 1744. It islavishly embroidered with polychrome silks andmetal threads, and was undoubtedly prepared forthe bride’s presentation at court after her marriage.20The other, which dates to the late 1770s, is made ofpure white silk satin (pl.23). The trained sack-backgown has been skilfully constructed to fit over thewide side hoop that was required for attendance atcourt and the most formal evening dress, making itsuitable for a private evening wedding ceremonywith high-status guests and for the bride’s presentation at court. It is impossible to verify the dress’sprovenance but its formality, quality and colourwould have made it appropriate for either of theseoccasions, though it is more likely to have been wornat court. The gown is decorated with undulatingchains of large and small puffs of satin, made fromS I LV E R A N D W H I T E31

Wedding Dress 4 pp98-127 v4:Wedding Dress 4 pp98-127 v46/1/1114:44Page 100Unlike nineteenth-century bridal wear wornfor church weddings, the fabric, cut, construction and decoration of fashionablewedding dresses in the interwar period followedevening styles rather than daywear. Wedding dressesin shades of white and cream remained popular, butthere were alternatives to these colours.The shift towards evening wear was gradual. Itstarted in the Edwardian period and became morepronounced after the First World War, as daywearbecame more practical, informal and androgynous. Inthe 1920s metallic lamés and lace, pale gold and shellpink fabrics were fashionable for bridal and eveningwear, giving wedding dresses added glamour. Theclassic white satin wedding dress returned to favourin the uncertain years of the Depression in the early1930s, but in the second half of the decade pastelcolours were an alternative to white. In 1934 the hoursregulating when marriages could take place in churchwere extended from 3pm until 6pm and the opportunity to move on from the wedding to an eveningreception may have encouraged a more open-mindedapproach to what colour a wedding dress should be.Brides were guided in their choice by morality, religious sentiment, personal taste, budget and thestrength of their engagement with fashion.Film became an important influence on weddingstyles. The introduction of commercially viablefilms in the mid-1890s and of picture houses in theearly twentieth century was one of the most important technological developments in the first half ofthe twentieth century. Film enabled people to seewith astonishing immediacy fashionable events thatthey had only read about or seen in still images inthe past. It introduced a new way of exchanginginformation, a medium for entertainment and analternative to photography for recording celebrityand newsworthy events such as weddings.weddings in the first world warA 1914 wedding dress (pl.79) is a good example ofthe influence of evening wear on bridal fashions atthe start of the First World War (1914–18). PhyllisBlaiberg (b.1886) married Bertie Mayer Stone at theBayswater Synagogue near London’s Hyde Park on9 September, a month after the outbreak of the war.She chose a tunic-shaped, ankle-length dress with aV-shaped back and neckline and short sleeves. Itsslightly raised waistline is marked by a broad whitesatin sash which extends to the hips and a satin79 Beaded wedding dressby Aida Woolf, London, 1914.Woolf’s shop at 283 OxfordStreet was above the ABCteashop. Her salon was onthe first floor, the family livingquarters on the second andthe workrooms in the attics.V&A: T.856&A–1974.Gift of Mrs B. Rackow80 Silk and leather ‘tango’shoes bought from PeterRobinson of London, 1914.V&A: T.856B, C–1974.Gift of Mrs B. RackowTOWARDS THE MODERN101

Wedding Dress 4 pp98-127 v4:Wedding Dress 4 pp98-127 v46/1/1114:44Page 12099 Sketch of a weddingdress by the House of Paquin,pencil, ink and body colour,London, 1939–40. The designcaptures the theatricality ofthe 1930s.V&A: E.22922–1957.Given by the House of Worth100 Elizabeth King andRalph Rowland Absalomon their wedding day,6 September 1941.V&A: Furniture, Textiles andFashion Archive101 (overleaf) Silk wedding dressby Ella Dolling, London, 1941. Wartimehardship meant materials werescarce, so Elizabeth King had her dressmade of light-weight upholstery fabric.A silver lamé lucky horseshoe isstitched to the inside hem of the dress.V&A: T.251 to 254–2006.Given by Mrs Gay Oliver Barrett‘Splurge on an expensive outfit Engrave yourselfon the memories of those gathered together.’ For agrand wedding they suggested Edward Molyneux’swhite satin bustle dress with a ruffle collar – ‘thewhole thing looking as if it might have been liftedout of your grandmother’s brass-bound cedar-chest’– or an ‘eye-turning’ pale, smoke-blue satin dress byChicago-born designer Mainbocher (Main RousseauBocher, 1890–1976), worn with long blue gloves andbluebird pins to hold the veil in place. ‘Hereditaryred-heads’ were urged to ‘dramatize it [their haircolour] with a grey wedding, and move down to thealtar in a misty chiffon dress of the palest grey’, or,‘if the Directoire era has your fancy a slim dressof white crêpe, its skirt rapier-pleated, with Greekscrolls of embroidery at the top.’23 The article drewattention to the fashionable use of colours other thanwhite for weddings and highlights the growingemphasis on choice in fashion. In 1935 NormanHartnell had designed a very pale pearl-pink satindress for the marriage of Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott (1901–2004) to Prince Henry, Duke ofGloucester (1900–74), which encouraged brides tothink of wearing pink. Wallis Simpson’s (1896–1986)light-blue dress, designed by Mainbocher for herthird marriage, to the Duke of Windsor (1894–1972)in April 1937, also spawned copies and, as the article in Vogue revealed, other blue dresses.second world war bridesA sketch of a bridal outfit from the House of Paquindating to 1939–40 encapsulates the femininity andcoquettishness of fashions at the end of the 1930s(pl.99). Its leg-of-mutton sleeves, pie-crust frills,pinched waist and flaring basque, topped by aseductively tilted hat, conjure up the theatricalglamour that typified the 1930s. In September 1939Britain declared war on Germany and with the onsetof the blitz the following September, when Britishcities were bombarded by day and night, the warbecame a bitter reality for the civilian population.While magazines and even the government suggested that keeping up a smart appearance could beimportant for morale, most women were more concerned with meeting their family’s basic clothing120THE WEDDING DRESSTOWARDS THE MODERN121

Wedding Dress 4 pp98-127 v4:Wedding Dress 4 pp98-127 v46/1/1114:44Page 126To wed in redIn June 1938, Monica Maurice (1908–95)married Dr Arthur Newton Jackson in a quietceremony at the Chapel of Our Lady onRotheram Bridge in South Yorkshire. MonicaMaurice was an independent, unconventionalwoman who in 1938 become the first – and until1978 only – woman member of the Association ofMining Electrical Engineers. She had a passionfor racing cars and flying, and loved clothes. Redwas one of her favourite colours, making herchoice of a ruby-coloured silk gauze mid-calfdress for her wedding quite personal (pl.104).With its contrasting deep-blue belt and buttons,and worn over a matching red artificial silk slip,it was a feminine and fashionable dress perfectlysuited to her petite frame. She wore a shortshoulder-length veil and flowered wreath.Rachel Ginsburg (1923–2010) also chose awedding outfit in red. She wore a tailored woolskirt-suit when she married Walter Foster, afellow student at the London School ofEconomics, at Brondesbury Synagogue inLondon, on 4 January 1949 (pl.105). Resourcesremained low after the Second World War,making new clothes difficult to acquire. The bridefound this suit with the help of her aunt in theBon Marché department store in Liverpool,where her family lived. Although the originaldesigner is unknown, the extremely fashionableoutfit was probably a model from a Britishcouture or high-quality ready-to-wear house.The deep, flared peplum and nipped-in waist ofthe jacket reflect the ‘New Look’ popularized byParisian couturier Christian Dior in 1947. Asclothing rationing, introduced in June 1941,would not end until March 1949, the bride’sfellow students donated clothing coupons tosupport the 22 purchase. Although expensive ata time when a female insurance clerk inLiverpool earned 2.30– 4.70 a week, itsfashionable cut and good-quality fabrics wouldhave remained smart for several years, and thejacket and skirt could be worn separately withdifferent garments.1 While Rachel’s mother felt avivid red suit was a little daring for a bride to126THE WEDDING DRESSwear to a traditionally modestsynagogue ceremony, her fatherand fiancé both approved.Both these wedding outfits offera surprising contrast with the popular contemporary image of thebride as a young woman in virginalwhite, which was widely disseminated in the media and throughHollywood films. While there was avogue in the 1920s and 1930s fordelicately coloured bridal gowns,stronger colours still made a boldstatement. For the bride conditioned to think in terms of thetraditional Western white-wedding,red is one of the most daring alternatives. But for many non-Westerncultures, it is a traditional colourfor wedding garments. Red is oftenworn by Hindu and Muslim brides,and is also favoured by Chinese andVietnamese brides for whom it represents good luck.Daniel Milford-Cottam104 Silk gauze weddingdress with artificial silk slip,British, 1938.V&A: T.716:1 to 3–1995.Worn by Miss Monica Mauriceand given by her family105 Wool wedding suittrimmed with black silk braid,purchased at Bon Marché,Liverpool, British, 1948.V&A: T.14&A–1960.Given by Mrs W. FosterTO WED IN RED127

Wedding Dress 5 pp128-159 v3:Wedding Dress pp128-159 v46/1/1115:31Page 136111 Cotton organdiewedding dress designed byHardy Amies for the CottonBoard, 1953.Photograph by John French. V&A ImagesBritain was well-known for its high-qualityready-to-wear companies whi