Yes folks, today is the Royal Wedding day for Will and Kate. And of course the big question on everyone’s lips is ‘What will the bride wear?’ I can practically guarantee the miles of descriptive prose and full colour magazine pages that will be devoted to every detail of that dress.
Perhaps Kate and her dress designer will have taken inspiration from brides of yesteryear, having paid a visit to the exhibition I enjoyed recently at the Fashion Museum in Bath. The ‘What will she wear’ exhibition is a celebration of wedding dresses from the museum’s collections and continues until January 2012, so you’ve no excuse not to visit if you’re looking for design ideas for your own dream wedding dress.
The dresses were displayed in no particular order with the bride from the 20s next to the bride of the surprisingly demure 60s although as wedding dresses are often inspired by historic costume it was not so easy to tell them apart. The high necked dress with delicate lace from the 70s looked distinctly Edwardian and the Alexander McQueen dress from 2010 had 18th century panier skirts.
If only those cases full of gorgeous gowns could tell their stories; the romance, the fluttering hearts, the courtship, the proposal and finally the big day. For many of those dresses the owners are known and there might even be a newspaper clipping to give the account of the wedding, with full details of what the bride wore. For others, not much is known about the owners. On the walls of the exhibition were formal portraits of elegant and wealthy brides from the 1930s modelling their couture gowns from the House of Worth, in the studio setting surrounded by flowers.
Fashions for brides have been a reflection of the past and the present. A hundred years ago weddings were held in the morning, so a day dress was worn, but later they came to resemble evening wear with long trains as worn at court. Our teenage girls took it in turn to pick the one that they would choose for their wedding day and the dress above left is my daughter’s favourite. I was married not long after Diana and Fergie and like many brides was influenced by their full skirts, ruffles and lace. Now I think I might like to wear one of those elegant bias cut columns from the 30s. Which one would you choose?
So what will the bride wear? – we’ll find out soon enough but in the meantime, enjoy these lovely wedding gowns of yesterday.
The What will she wear? exhibition is on display at the Fashion Museum in Bath until 8 January 2012.
Other adventures in Bath
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