Wedding Dresses 1775 - 2014 at the V&A, London

1 May 2014

Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 features more than 80 of the most romantic, glamorous and extravagant wedding outfits from the V&A’s enviable collection. The exhibition which has been curated by Edwina Ehrman, the museum’s curator of textiles and fashion, traces the development of the fashionable white wedding dress and its interpretation by leading couturiers and designers.

Displayed chronologically over two floors, the bridal wear is showcased alongside accessories including shoes, jewellery, veils, hats, wreaths, garters, fashion sketches and personal photographs. It’s not all just about the bride; garments worn by bridegrooms and attendants also feature, together, revealing a fascinating insight into the lives of the wearers, their occupations, circumstances and fashion choices.

The opening selection of the exhibition features some of the earliest examples of wedding fashion including a silk satin court dress (1775) and a brocade gown with its original bergère hat and shoes (1780). During the 19th century, the preference for wedding attire was white, and is beautifully demonstrated with an exquisite white muslim dress embroidered with flowers, leaves and berries (1807).

Evening fashions influenced design during the 1920s and 1930s; dresses were slim-hipped and made from richly beaded textured fabrics and slinky bias-cut satin. A stark contrast during the Second World War, when clothing restrictions were introduced and brides had to make do with non-rationed fabrics such as light-weight upholstery fabric, parachute silk and even net curtaining.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The mezzanine level features garments from 1960 to 2014 bringing the exhibition right up to date with Spring/Summer 2014 designs by Jenny Packham and Temperley Bridal.

Kate Moss’s spectacular couture wedding dress designed by John Galliano along with Jamie Hince’s outfit by Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent (2011), and the extraordinary purple creation by Vivienne Westwood for the wedding of Dita Von Teese (2005) are just some of the highlights.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London


 Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014 at the V&A, London, runs from 3 May 2014- 15 March 2015.

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All images by V&A.