Please accept my apologies for neglecting to share some photos taken at the opening of this wonderful new National Trust exhibition. This exhibition opened a while ago, and closes at the end of this month but hopefully it’s not too late to go and see it now.
From the site:
The collection spans over 200 years of fashion, including pieces from the world-leading designers such as Valentino for Princess Marie Chantal of Greece. A mini retrospect of leading Australian designers – Akira Isogawa and Collette Dinnigan will showcase their fashion career.
Celebrity gowns include dresses designed for Jennifer Hawkins (Maticevski) and Kyly Clarke (Alex Perry) to film and television pieces worn by Kylie Minogue (as Charlene in Neighbours) to Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Meryl Streep.
What: Love, Desire, Riches – The Fashion of Weddings exhibition
When: 1st July until 30th September 2014, 10am to 4pm each day
Where:Rippon Lea, 192 Hotham St, Rippon Lea
Cost: between $4 -$15.
More information: at the website.
You can see me here at the opening with Tim and Alison Waters.
I’m always felt a little torn about wedding gown exhibitions: bridal fashions change much more slowly than other types of dress and often tend to the more conservative, especially before the ’90s. There was this idea about the virtuous woman, who was modest and reflected her social class, or the class she was marrying into. The results can be a little dull.
When you put older gowns up against their contemporaries, as is done here, there can be a bit of a clash – modern brides often like a sexier, more glamorous movie star, red carpet look.
Here we also have several celebrity gowns and – a highlight for me – some choice film wedding costumes. There’s nothing like seeing something that you’ve only seen on screen for a few minutes in a long ago scene, up close where you can walk around it and look at that intriguing detail.
It’s also a great opportunity to ooh and aah over how tiny the Victorian waistlines were. One in particular looks like you could put your hands around her waist. Much beauty too. Plus reminders that wedding gowns weren’t always white.
One room is dedicated to the darker side of weddings with the banquet table set up for Miss Havisham’s cobwebbed feast and no fewer than three film costumes for the Dickens character. I appreciated the room: it gave light and shade to the fantasies elsewhere.
Upstairs is a room dedicated to the art of couture sewing, with an Akira bridal gown hand made from paper patterns, and vintage sewing tools like enormous scissors and antique mannequins. It’s a nice reminder of how much goes into creating the once-worn confections.
I thought the setting particular apt, as weddings are personal and intimate affairs, celebrating the love of two people – Rippon Lea as both domestic and wedding venue resonated with the gowns more than a stark art gallery does. The older garments looked particularly at home amongst the sumptuous interiors.
The men were not forgotten, with a room dedicated to manly attire appropriate for the occasion.
“Love, Desire, Riches” closes at the end of the month. I hope you can see it. If you’d like tickets, the National Trust have offered five double passes – to win one, please leave a comment about your favourite wedding gown – perhaps a famous one from history, cinema or even your own. Winners will be chosen at random and entries close Monday midnight. Good luck!