Last Monday, as a member of my favourite, Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), I was invited to attend the special members evening to enjoy the exhibition with a glass of champagne accompanied by a beautiful and delicate rhythm of a live music.
Joanna in wedding dress with hair stylist
However, it was not for a glass of champagne, although always my preferred companion to anything related to celebration, nor for the live music. My desire was to escape for a moment from the drawing desk of Gurasu and to contemplate on something intellectual. I was curious to find how the relationship between design and protest of different sorts influenced the ways people have created objects with a specific purpose – sometimes for effect, sometimes to communicate, often both.
V&A wedding dresses history
Thus, the Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014 turned out to be similarly clever and ambitious in its objectives and by no means meaningless. It was very inspirational to see the development of the “white gown”, to me, the most immediately recognisable example of clothing ever produced.
At this exhibition I admired wedding dresses of Dita von Teese, Gwen Stefani, John Galliano, Charles Frederick Worth, Norman Hartnell, and Christian Lacroix, to name just a few. However, they all united with one single purpose, namely, they showered to the design savvy “us” the fascinating history of wedding attire, while also allowing a glimpse into the lives of the wearers.
A place of inspiration
It is inevitable that it was thanks to Queen Victoria’s choice of white gown which gave it its momentum, a real trend-setter. Nevertheless, it was by no means novel. I discovered that it was Philippa of England (1394 – 1430) who was the first bride to wear white, when she married Eric VII, king of the united realms of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Later, the white gown become a fashion worn by elites of Europe as a mean of publicly displaying a family‘s wealth. We cannot forget that the royal weddings were inspirations to the wealthy.
“In Renaissance Florence, gown of silk velvet and brocade were produced for affluent brides decorated with lavish embroidery, beading and metal work”
– Bronwyn Cosgrave. In contrast, women from “modest background” wore coloured dresses simply because the delicate white garment took effort to maintain. It was very interesting to see how the fashion changed over the last centuries and how new modes of manufacturing, the Hollywood movies, bridal magazines contributed to the development of the modern wedding dress. A famous quote by John Galliano attracted my attention particularly. He beautifully admitted in few words:
“She (Kate Moss) dared me to be John Galliano again”
when designing for her wedding gown inspired by 1930s embellished with thousands of gilded sequins. It immediately reminded me my personal dilemma of choosing the perfect gown for my wedding day. Luckily, I knew one of the best wedding dresses craftswomen who said : “show me your ideas and I will make a dress of your dream…
“So, I closed my eyes and created attire which was nothing far from daring to hide my personality”
I created the gown to impress.
Joanna in her fabulous wedding dress
Inevitably, exhibitions of V& A are my food for thought and one of main platforms where I gain my inspirations from. To every designer, leaving their drawing studios , is the healthiest state of seeking new inspirations.
More reading on the ever fascinating subject of weddings: