As I mentioned in my previous post, on the 6th August I took over the V&A’s twitter account for an hour and answered questions that were tweeted in. Once again, you came up with some great ones and it was good to have the chance to chat with some of you – including those who had also come along to my talk at the ‘Wedding Dresses 1775-2014’.
In case you missed it, or if you’re not the tweeting type, please find some of the questions and answers (which were, of course, constrained to 140 characters) below:
Emily Corner: Hi Susanna! How did you get to where you are? What is a normal day like for an Assistant Curator? Many thanks!
Susanna: Nice question! I did an MA in Art, specialised in Fashion History & worked my way up from interning here to this AC post now.
2nd questions: A normal day = very varied! Anything from researching to handling objects in our stores to chatting with lenders
PeakTimeTales: Viewed exhibition on Saturday. Beautifully put together. How did you source so many early pieces? Did you get to meet the ancestors?
Susanna: Thanks! We’ve had some people come to ‘Wedding Dresses’ & contact us afterwards having recognised their great grandma, not knowing her dress was here!
PeakTimeTales: How lovely. I’m getting married in five weeks so it was a lovely mother/daughter pre-wedding day out.
Katy Hope Sparrow: Loved your talk at the V&A members event on 21 July #realtreat #weddingdresses
Susanna: Thanks so much, it was a great evening. Did it leave you with any questions?
Katy Hope Sparrow: No questions, just wishing I could do another history degree!! I loved the whole dress fitting the space theory!
(You can read more about that theory in my ‘Dress with a View’ blog post: https://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/here-come-brides/a-dress-with-a-view)
Emma Green: How did you source/decide which dresses to display – did people approach you or vice versa?
Susanna: Over half of the dresses are ours – we approached brides whose dresses we thought told stories or stood out.
Sarah Maclean: Which is your favourite dress in the exhibit? Why?
Susanna: I love Monica Maurice’s 1938 red wedding dress because it’s bold but timeless.
Kristen O’clock: What’s the most unusual material you’ve seen used in a wedding dress (maybe to save money, or to make an artistic statement!)?
Susanna: Due to rationing Elizabeth King’s 1941 wedding dress is made from a light curtain fabric
Bertha: Which has been the most delicate piece you have worked with?
Susanna: Our amazing conservators spent 100s of hours taking care of out beautiful lace veils.
Nistasha: What’s the most recent dress in the collection? Do you see pop culture, celebrity weddings, reality dress shows changing designs?
Susanna: Both the Jenny Packham and Ian Stuart dresses are from 2014 collections.
Susanna: 2nd – Celebrity choices definitely influence wedding fashions. Dresses are now designed to look amazing in photos & be worn for 1 day
MarieVC: Do you have some pieces in Honiton lace? My Mom is lacemaker and has made part of my wedding dress with this English type of lace!
Susanna: Gorgeous! We have 2 Honiton veils & one dress with a Honiton lace border.
Kristen O’clock: Have any of your dresses been worn by several brides in the same family?
Susanna: No dresses, but we have a veil made in India and worn by three generations of a family.
Julia Kelly: What are some of the challenges unique to preserving wedding dresses?
Susanna: The fabrics popular for wedding dresses tend to be very fragile – and if white, easily yellow or stain.
Alexandra Williams: How many people a year offer to donate their wedding dresses? And how many do you accept if so?
Susanna: Every year we are offered hundreds of dresses, and sadly we are only able to accept one or two.
Lene Eklund: What is your acquisition policy on wedding dresses from the present time?
Susanna: As we can accept so few, we look to fill gaps in the collection or choose exceptional designs.
Judith C. Price: Are there any hand knitted veils in the ‘Wedding Dresses’ display?
Susanna: We have hand embroidered but no knitted veils – the closest thing we have in the collection is: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O108369/cape-unknown/
Laura Conlon: I wonder if any of the marriages your wedding dresses were from ended in divorce. It’s worth thinking about I suppose…
Susanna: Indeed they have. We asked one lender about this, and she said ‘I picked the wrong man, but I picked the right dress’!
…And on that positive note, thanks again for taking part & I hope you enjoyed it too.