The attempt by the V&A to showcase several centuries of wedding dresses is admirable simply because of the inevitable range of the most personal dresses possible. They reflect lives, love and countless stories. I was amazed by the number of dresses that had clearly been passed down through the families before ending up in the V&A.
There was glitter, sequins, and beads. There were long dresses, short dresses, suits and dresses made out of parachutes. Weddings are often demonstrated to join cultures and countries together, with their symbolism being adapted for every occasion. They show that whilst fashions are constantly changing weddings will always contain moments of significance.
After several rooms full of white dresses Dita von Teese’s deep purple wedding dress was overwhelming in its sudden intensity. It meets the eye as you turn up the stairs from the older section to reach the upper floor. It was stunning and made me reassess the necessity of using white material to prove that a dress is wedding dress. The exhibition noted that although it was only after Queen Victoria’s wedding that the traditional wedding dress became expected to be white. However, as a reflection of a woman’s personality a white dress seems flat, a view which is compounded when so many white dresses can be compared against one another.
Nevertheless, the shape and cut of this white dress still allowed it to stand out from the crowd. I leave the best dress until last – Margaret Whigham wore this dress for her society wedding in 1933. It was designed by Norman Hartnell (who went on to design both the wedding and coronation dresses of Elizabeth II), taking inspiration from the recent revival of interest in the medieval.The inbuilt train is stunning in real life as it seems to spread out like an iced lake. It would definitely look magnificent down the aisle.
The exhibition continues until 15th March 2015 so there’s plenty of time to choose the perfect moment to go and see it.