V&A Wedding Dress Exhibition (1775-2014)

January 31, 2015 by Laura McFadden - 1 Comment

For one day only BBB forgot about sample and second-hand wedding dresses, met my Mum in South Ken and stepped back in time to see what the world had to say about wedding dresses 300 years ago. The V&A is one of my favourite places in London. I’ve only been a few times but it knows how to put on a show and the building is something else. Walking in there was this…

vintage wedding dress

I mean come on!?!?! This bride knew how to make an entrance clearly. It was Mum’s favourite and it definitely made my top three…which I shall be divulging in just a few minutes.

vintage wedding dress

The dresses from the Georgian through to Victorian era were so thought out and exquisite it made me think how really nothing has changed. Bridal apparel was and still is the dress of our life…I think many grooms would say it is the suit of their life! Even then a bride and her family considered ‘the dress’ to be of utmost importance and much time, money and thought went into what the outfits would be. Both bride and groom would kit themselves out in the best they could afford.

vintage waistcoat

It was very fashionable, even in the higher social classes, to buy a dress that could be worn again. This seems a GREAT IDEA and although I know many modern brides try to achieve this goal – it is not easy! This meant that with perhaps an alteration or two the dress could be modified to reflect changes in fashion and the wearer’s figure.

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From the end of the eighteenth century up until the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) the white wedding dress was becoming the traditional choice, not just the fashionable one. It was still very popular to wear a combination of silver and white but Queen Victoria’s decision to wear a creamy-white satin court dress made it hugely desirable at all levels of society. For brides who could afford it and were marrying for the first time – a white wedding dress was the norm as it was perceived as a symbol of romantic love and purity. Fashion magazines and newspapers began to play a vital role in promoting the white wedding dress and much of this information came from French sources as Britain was as in love with French style, fashion and fabrics as we are today.

vintage wedding dress

With such a focus on ‘vintage style’ dresses in current bridal fashion it was fun to see the genuine articles from the ‘20s through to the 70s’. I wonder whether we will re-embrace the meringues of the 80s?! Am sure it will happen at some point.

OK so I am going to put my top three right now because I can’t contain myself!

Up first was definitely the fashion forward 1930s dress with the massive train…

vintage wedding dress

Swiftly followed by Kate Moss’ dress – designed by John Galliano – looked sensational. Up close the detail was amazing and although I loved the pictures I saw of it in the press, I wasn’t aware of the intricate beading and decadence of the train. Jamie Hince looked very dapper too!

Kate Moss wedding dress

And last but not least this….

vintage wedding dress

Because it is so like my Mum’s Ozzie Clark wedding dress! Fashion forward Mama of the 70s!

Vintage Wedding Dress

Thank you V&A for a truly eye-catching and interesting time!