Here Come the Brides

3 May 2014 – 15 March 2015 Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 had a long journey to arrive at the V&A, having already travelled 46,425 miles, to four international venues – where it was seen by 240,000 people. Here we highlight some of the exciting things that go on behind the scenes in the run up to a major fashion exhibition.

The exhibition showcases around 70 wedding outfits and numerous accessories. Contempory highlights include loans from Dita von Teese, and Gwen Stefani; while stunning examples from the V&A collection, such as garments by designers Charles Frederick Worth, Norman Hartnell, and Christian Lacroix, demonstrate the facinating history of wedding attire, while also allowing a glimpse into the lives of the wearers.

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Bridal Photography

I am somewhat reluctant to post this latest instalment, because the standard of photography is about to sky rocket and swiftly put my all the previous images to shame. Oh well, here goes… Photography forms an essential part of preparing for an exhibition, and we try to ensure that the objects included in every exhibition […]

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High Street Mannequins for Contemporary Brides

While many of our historical garments are displayed on dress stands, as demonstrated in an earlier post, we will often display more contemporary costume on retail mannequins made from fibreglass, much like those used on the high street. The glitch tends to be their idealised shape, since few ordinary humans match their ultra-sleek lines. This […]

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Taking the Train: Mounting, Packing and Touring the Wedding Dress of Margaret Whigham

Among the star objects in Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 is this stunning dress was worn by the acclaimed society beauty and gossip columnists’ favourite Margaret Whigham, for her 1933 wedding to Charles Sweeny. Their wedding took place on February 21st 1933 at Brompton Oratory, London, and crowds of people gathered to catch a glimpse of the […]

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Bridesmaid – Eileen Amy Brock

If you thought we were only preparing bridal gowns for the upcoming Wedding Dresses 1775- 2014 exhibition – think again! The exhibition also features several grooms’ outfits, and even a few outfits worn by bridesmaids and page boys. The first of these to undergo treatment was a dress and hat ensemble worn by Eileen Amy […]

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Bespoke Bodies for Bespoke Brides

Without a doubt, every garment that appears in the Conservation Studio is unique in some form or another, and as a result, every mannequin has to be custom built to a certain degree, be it through padding, as shown in an earlier blog, or through close collaboration with our mannequin makers. There are going to […]

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Conservation Friendly Updos: The Art of Making Wigs

One of the real success stories from the Wedding Dresses exhibition has been the development of a series of conservation and travel friendly wigs. While the sheer volume of the dresses provided our greatest challenge, a secondary problem was that of how to mount and travel the accompanying veils, hats and head pieces which were […]

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From Grey to ‘White’ – Wet Cleaning Henrietta Woodcock’s Wedding Dress

Assistant Conservator Rachael Lee has just finished washing one of the dresses mentioned in the first Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 blog post and it’s looking really good!  Here she outlines the process of wet cleaning, which many of the garments in the exhibition will undergo before May. First worn 165 years ago, this wedding dress, which […]

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Which Heads? Choosing Heads for our Brides

Part of the process of choosing mannequins for an exhibition is deciding what sort of heads to use, and this is never a straightforward task. For Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, a team of V&A staff, including the Costume Mounting Specialist, the Curator, and the Designer have been out an about looking at the heads they might […]

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Mannequin Delivery Number One

Hooray, the first Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 mannequins have arrived in the building and we are gradually starting to unpack them. Here you can see members of the Conservation Team unloading bubble wrap-clad mannequins from the delivery van and transporting them to Textile Conservation for unwrapping and labelling. The mannequins and the mounts used for conservation […]

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An 18th Century Bride and an Introduction to Costume Mounting

It finally feels like the preparation for Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 is properly underway, and the first object we have been working on is a Spitalfields silk gown worn in 1775 by Sarah Boddicot, when she married Samuel Tyssen at St Johns Church in Hackney on 28th September. Before showing the initial stages of mounting this […]

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