Wedding belles: a century of bridal fashion

  • AFP
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  • Updated: Jul 22, 2014 13:57 IST

Pale blue printed silk corset and asymmetric bustled skirt, labelled ‘Vivienne Westwood, London’. Worn by Dr Maria Balshaw for her wedding to Dr Nick Merriman on the Hebridean Isle of Gigha, in May 2010. (AFP)

It’s one of the most important elements of any bride’s big day: the fantasy wedding dress. Now the changing face of the most romantic garment of them all is the focus of a UK design exhibition this summer. “Something Blue” explores British bridal fashions over the past hundred years from 1914-2014.

Featuring 18 dresses, the Manchester exhibition follows national bridal trends from classic gowns to unconventional frocks which challenged the norm. The dresses on show have been worn by a mill worker, the wife of a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and a woman serving in the air force.

Pieces worn by art world figures Kathleen Soriano, judge on Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year and Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries, also appear in the selection.

From brides fabricating dresses from parachute silk during the war-torn 1940s to the introduction of contemporary suits or shorter dresses in the 1960s and a penchant for colored dresses in the 1990s, the exhibition illustrates the broad changes in style that have swept over the century.

Each of the dresses is accompanied by a portrait of the bride alongside the garment's personal history.

The design history of the wedding dress is a topical subject at the moment, with London’s V&A Museum currently tracing the development of the garment over the last two centuries through the work of fashion designers such as John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood and Vera Wang in its exhibition "Wedding Dresses 1775-2014".

"Something Blue" will run from August 1 to March 15 at The Gallery of Costume, Manchester.


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