Wedding dresses at the V&A.


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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!

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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. ^^

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^^ 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. ^^

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^^ 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. ^^

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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!

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  • Rachael

    Such a gorgeous exhibition! Kate Moss’s dress is so so nice, it must have taken so much work x

  • Rebecca

    The Rapunzel dress is my absolute favourite wedding dress in the world. My friends, work colleagues and family understand my obsession with that dress. Jenny’s dresses in general are just stunning. My advice, pop online and view the wedding catwalks for Jenny Packham, the way the dresses move will take your breath away!

  • Steph

    Going this weekend! Looking forward to it. I love that Kate Moss dress. The bead work is amazing. x

  • char

    I’m not a fan of weddings, but I love dresses and I love the V+A – my favourite museum by far. Lovely photos.

  • Ala Skrakowski

    I was reading about this elsewhere this morning, it looks like a very interesting exhibition and what perfect timing for your engagement! x

  • arielle

    I am so in love with jenny packham’s ‘repunzel’ gown as well. I love how unique (and sparkly) it is! what a cool experience. especially since you are a bride-to-be yourself! congratulations (again), btw.

    love, arielle

  • Katy English

    It looks stunning. I’m hopefully going to see it at some point this summer with my sister. I can’t wait! xx

    Katy | Little Miss Katy

  • Laura

    Oh my goodness – Kate Mosses’s dress looks so incredibly beautiful! And the whole exhibit looks awesome, too :)

  • Hannah

    Got my tickets booked – cannot wait to see this exhibition now!! Hope you’re well lovely. Hannah xx

  • Emily Rowbotham

    Oh Rosie. This has made me so, so jealous.
    I studied Textiles at school up to A2 and we visited the V&A multiple times to be stunned by their exhibitions. (I even did my final project on wedding dresses!) I just love how one outfit can mean the world to one person, for one day and make them feel one million dollars.
    I’ve been eyeing up visiting this exhibition over Summer (once the dreaded university exams are done!)
    I’m now giddy with excitement to go and see the dresses, especially that beautiful Jenny Packham number.)
    Such a beautiful post for such pretty dresses!
    Emily xx
    My GingerBread Journey

  • Creative Countryside

    One of my bridesmaids has booked us in for a trip here in July – seeing your photos I’m even more excited now!

  • Thien

    That’s so neat! I would have never thought an exhibit like that existed but the trip seemed to have been a great one. I never left a comment to say congratulations to you and your fiance! I wish you both all the best!

  • Anna

    It looks like a perfect day, all those dresses are stunning – I’ll definitely have to make my way to the V&A soon to see them for myself! xx

  • Tamsin | A Certain Adventure

    Stunning photos! I think I may already be in love with the Kate Moss dress and I haven’t even seen it in full! Fantastic that this exhibition runs for so long – I’ll definitely be visiting soon (perhaps with girlfriends though – the boy might think I’m hinting if I drag him along!) You must have come back with bags of inspiration for your dress, so exciting! Really love seeing exhibition reviews on my favourite blogs, so thank you for this post!
    Tamsin xx | A Certain Adventure

  • laura

    Beautiful! I had a browse through the photos of this exhibition and it really does look beautiful. Wedding dresses are pretty overwhelming I think! I’m feeling grateful that I haven’t gone ‘dress shopping’ in the traditional sense because I don’t think I’d be able to choose! So many are beautiful in different ways. I have found mine from Etsy for £25 and have now taken it completely apart ready to sew back together with a whole load of extra details. I love the idea of having something that has already been worn and has been given new life by my own hands. Worth more to me than one bought for thousands and it just makes me think of how many memories and emotions are tied into all those dresses! Just incredible

  • Sarah Sandiford

    This looks AMAZING! Your snaps are brilliant : )

  • Faye

    Beautiful photos! The V&A is my all-time favourite museum and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to go see this stunning exhibition. I will be looking out for the little details now I’ve read your post about it :)

    Faye |

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