Last week an email ‘pinged’ in my inbox asking if I might like to come along to the press launch of the V&A’s new ‘Wedding Dresses 1775-2014′ exhibition, and since I’d say a good 60% of my brain capacity these days is occupied by weddings and white gowns, I sent back a reply of ‘YES, PLEASE!’ quick as a flash! The V&A is my absolute favourite museum in London (the jewellery section especially!), so it’s always lovely to have an excuse to visit. My best friend (and bridesmaid-in-chief) Jo came along with me to act as co-photographer, so at 10am we met in the South Kensingston tube station underpass and headed on into the museum for a morning of culture (and trying not to get barged out of the way by men carrying giant cameras on their shoulders).
The exhibition itself is quite small (I’d say it takes no more than an hour to see in full) and absolutely gorgeous. There are wedding dresses on display that were worn by Kate Moss, Dita von Teese, Gwen Stefani, and even the dress coat worn by the Duchess of Cornwall at her blessing ceremony with Prince Charles. Seeing the dresses in isolation (away from their traditional church/grand reception venue settings) kind of highlighted how theatrical and removed from normality a wedding actually is. It’s kind of like putting on a costume and playing a role for the day, isn’t it? It made me so excited to go shopping for my own dress!
Partway through the morning we listened to a talk by the exhibition’s curator Edwina Ehrman, who explained all about the thought processes behind the exhibition, and how she and her team went about pulling the collection together. It was absolutely fascinating realising quite how much detail and thought goes into an exhibition like this one- there were so many things I’d have just skimmed right over if they hadn’t been pointed out to me! Edwina explained that she wanted to really root the exhibition in the traditions and customs of the wedding as opposed to just making it all about pretty dresses. There are line drawings of churches etched onto the glass display cases that house the dresses, and footage of famous weddings being projected onto the walls, and quotes about weddings taken from historical diaries and novels scattered around the exhibition. Even though we’d already been there for an hour before Edwina’s talk, we did another full lap of the exhibition after listening to it because we felt like there were so many things we’d missed first walk round!
^^ ‘Flower Bomb’, by Ian Stuart. ^^
^^ Kate Moss’ wedding dress, designed by John Galliano. The beadwork and designs stitched into the gauzy top layer of the dress was absolutely stunning up-close. ^^
^^ This dress by Jenny Packham’s ‘Rapunzel’ gown has absolutely stolen my heart. It’s far more bohemian than my usual taste in dresses, which I think is why I love it so much. The beading is even more stunning in person, and the cut is to *die* for. All the wedding dresses I’ve looked at so far online for myself have been pretty classic in shape (I’m quite traditional in my tastes!) but having seen this dress in person I’m now keen to look at some more floaty, diaphanous gown as well… ^^
^^ Dita von Teese’ Vivienne Westwood gown. ^^
The exhibition will run at the V&A museum from the 3rd May ’14 to the 15th March ’15. Entry costs £12, or free to V&A members. It’s well worth a visit, if you’re in the area. I’m thinking of going back and taking my Mum with me next time we’re in the city!