If you love the heady combination of costume drama and romance, I have just the thing for you.
“Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Glamour” currently showing at the WA Museum in Perth showcases original wedding dresses, from the restraint of the early Victorian age, through the decades, to the extravagance of couturiers such as John Galliano and Christian Lacroix. Curated by Edwina Ehrman from the V&A Museum in London, the exhibition covers the cultural mores of society during each era. Hence we learn how early 19th century weddings were quiet, unassuming affairs; that wartime brides made thrifty use of unconventional fabrics to fashion their homemade gowns; and how 1960′s liberalism saw a shunning of convention with the introduction of pants suits and less formal attire.
I confess to having a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards marriage – we’ve been engaged for over two years now, but with no wedding date in sight. In my heart, I believe that our having a child together is a bigger commitment than a signed legal statement. However, as I walked round the exhibition last week cooing over each lace frill and satin drape, romance won the day. (I only wish I’d had the foresight to attend the talks in December given by Edwina when the show first opened here. By way of compensation, you can view an earlier recording from 2011 in New Zealand.)
Whilst my companion was in rapture over the sauciness of the Victorian bustles on display, I have to say that my favourites by far were from the 1920′s/30′s, particularly the Charles James gown worn by socialite Baba Beaton (see below). There is something about the contradiction of a full length silk gown hugging the curves so blatantly that I find utterly beguiling. Perhaps it’s tied in with the shameless decadence of the time as portrayed so damningly in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Beautiful and The Damned”. For whilst I loathe the brattish excess of married protagonists Anthony and Gloria Patch, there is a small part of me that wants to taste their life.
If you’re planning a wedding and looking for inspiration, or if you’re simply looking to add a little romance to your day, you can view the exhibition until March 24th. And like the best wedding, you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
“Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Glamour” at the WA Museum
Images below courtesy of V&A Collections