You May Now Kiss the Bride

As the exhibition opened on Saturday, it has been a hectic – but thrilling – couple of weeks for all the team.

As part of the press push before the exhibition opened, we held a photo call in the exhibition space. For this, designer Ian Stuart and his team came to the museum and kindly loaned us a wedding dress for the model Jenny Bishop to wear. It was great to have Ian involved as his dress Flowerbomb, 2011, which features in our ‘New Century’ case on the mezzanine, is a real showstopper.

Photo call of model Jenny Bishop wearing an Ian Stuart Wedding Dress of taffeta & beaded metallic lace. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Ian Stuart’s ‘Flowerbomb’ dress, 2011. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

After months of mannequins, it was interesting to see the way a dress as grand as many of the ones we are exhibiting fits to and moves with the female form. Every item in our exhibition was made to make its wearer feel and look their best through a hugely significant day. It is this feeling which we aimed to capture in the pleasing and sometimes playful ways we’ve styled and positioned the pieces.

Jenny Bishop poses in an Ian Stuart wedding dress in front of one of the exhibition’s displays. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

However, having a real woman in full bridal fashion move around our displays and mannequins provided a striking contrast. A lot of photographers attended the photo call, and so you may have spotted some of these pictures in the press yourself.

The V&A’s Grand Entrance was full of guests for our ‘Wedding Dresses 1775-2014’ Private View. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Last Wednesday, we held a Private View to launch the exhibition. These events are attended by a mix of contributors, press and special guests who are just as excited as us to see the finished result. We were very privileged to have quite a lot of our brides there, who were all eager to see how their dresses had been displayed. Having these women there really reinforced the purpose of what we’d produced – the exhibition might trace a core theme of fashion history, but it’s built from the stories of individual women.

To create the slight sense of a wedding reception at the party, our drinks were served in stunning Waterford crystal glasses and the museum’s grand entrance was decorated in flower arrangements by Shane Connolly.

Waterford crystal glasses at the Private View. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of Shane Connolly’s flower arrangements for the Private View. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Lucky ladies that we are, the exhibition’s curator Edwina Ehrman and I were both dressed for the event by designers included in the exhibition. Anna Valentine loaned a dress to Edwina, for which she had several fittings to ensure it suited her perfectly. I was dressed by Michael Pegrum at Vivienne Westwood in a red Anglomania playsuit. While we pointedly steered clear of bridal styles, it was great to wear pieces which were connected to designs on display. Meanwhile, the lovely women from our Press and Marketing departments were dressed by one of the exhibition’s sponsors, Monsoon.

The curator Edwina Ehrman, in a dress by Anna Valentine, with the V&A’s director Martin Roth and milliner Stephen Jones. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Posing in my playsuit by Vivienne Westwood. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A highlight of the night was the speech given by milliner Stephen Jones. Joking that he was a newlywed himself, he gave a personal and affectionate speech suited to the subject. Ending on the request for guests to take the exhibition, ‘to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer…now you can kiss the bride’, I’d say we’ve got off to an excellent start.

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