Dressing Up, Dressing Down

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dress 1947.814
1886 white silk wedding dress side 1947.4163
I108.jpg
wedding dress 1941.90
dress 1956.25
1968 polyester wedding dress (2003.4)
1967 wedding dress (2001.127)
dress 1999.29

Brides have chosen to wear a special outfit for their marriage ceremony for many centuries and in many different cultures. Often they have selected a glamorous, highly decorated gown, like today, choosing the most expensive dress that they could afford. Colour has also often been significant: Asian brides have traditionally chosen to wear red; whilst in Britain, white has been usual since the early nineteenth century.

In the West, it has also been common for brides from the 1970s onwards to select not only a white dress thus set apart from ordinary wear, but also a fantasy creation, not much connected to everyday fashion. The Princess of Wales's fairytale wedding gown designed by the Emmanuels in 1981 was typical of this new attitude and set the current trend for romantic one-off bridal creations. Couture houses such as Dior and Balmain, or couturiers like Rei Kawakubo or Alexander McQueen rely on wealthy clients ordering individual and costly wedding outfits as much as the more general market for glamorous evening and party dresses.

Full item descriptions:

"wedding dress" [1947.4163]
"wedding dress" [1941.90]
"wedding dress & wreath" [1947.814]
"wedding dress" [1956.25], Sherard, Michael, Kirkpatrick
"wedding dress" [2003.4], Durant model
"wedding dress" [2001.127], Pierre Balmain, Paris
"wedding dress" [1999.29], Comme des Garcons, Kawakubo, Rei

Related Themes:

Dressing Up, Dressing Down
Sexuality
Victorian Photographs: Family Occasions