Wedding Dresses at the V&A

Wedding dresses at V&A

I was treated to a preview of the V&A’s new Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 exhibition last week. It opened to everyone at the weekend, so here’s a peek at some of my favourite things on show.

Wedding dresses at V&A
Wedding dresses at V&A
The ground floor charts dresses from the 18th century up to the mid-20th century. You can clearly see the styles changing through the years and the influence that factors such as wealth and location had on the dress a woman chose. Above, some elaborately hand-worked 18th century dresses.

Wedding dresses at V&A

I love the print of this humble cotton dress, worn by a farm labourer in the 1830s.

Wedding dresses at V&A

A steam-moulded Victorian corset to be worn under a dress – yikes.

Wedding dresses at V&A
Wedding dresses at the V&A
A century later, the influence of eveningwear on bridalwear became apparent. This beautiful gown with a ridiculously long train was worn by a socialite in the 1930s.

Wedding dresses at V&A

Another stunning 30s dress, bias cut silk with a slightly more subtle train, again worn by a society lady.

Wedding dresses at the V&A

A silver lamé bridesmaids’ dress for a Jewish wedding, from just up the road in Stamford Hill.

Wedding dresses at V&A
Wedding dresses at V&A

Not every dress is white: a purple coat dress handmade by its wearer in the 1890s, and a gorgeous red shirt dress from the 30s.

Wedding dresses at V&A

The show is interspersed with little personal touches: fabric swatches, shoes and floral crowns and real quotations written on the walls, which makes it feel intimate and personal. This show really celebrates the bride herself.

Wedding dresses at V&A
Wedding dresses at V&A

Moving upstairs, this section covers the 1960s onwards and contains most of the star draws of the exhibition. Firstly, Kate Moss’s dress from her wedding to Jamie Hince.

Wedding dresses at V&A

The Galliano dress is even more stunning in the flesh as it was in the photos at the time: it’s got over a quarter of a million gold sequins as well as pearl beads and paillons which took over 700 hours to complete.

Wedding dresses at V&A
Wedding dresses at V&A

Another Galliano creation and one of my all-time favourites, Gwen Stefani’s dip-dyed dress. Great to see all the punk-influenced lacing and strapping on the back. Ugly shoes though!

Wedding dresses at V&A
Wedding dresses at V&A

Dita von Teese’s typically retiring shimmery purple gown

Wedding dresses at V&A
Wedding dresses at V&A

Modern dresses with influences from the 60s and 30s.

Wedding dresses at the V&A
Wedding dresses at the V&A

A pretty 60s tea dress, designed by its wearer

V&A Wedding dresses

A modern Ghanian wedding ensemble in traditional wax prints. I thought the show was a little too Western-orientated overall – it would have been nice to see more dresses from other cultures.

Wedding dresses at V&A
Wedding dresses at V&A

Interesting and beautiful craftsmanship techniques: roses applied to the veil with rubber, and the Duchess of Cornwall’s handpainted silk coat.

Wedding dresses at V&A

Even if like me you don’t have much interest in weddings, there is plenty to be enthralled by here. The changing fashions through time, the craftsmanship and the social and historical influences are all fascinating and make this show well worth a visit. The exhibition runs at the V&A until next March; you can find out more and order tickets here.