FROM luxurious gowns worn by European royalty in the 1800s to flapper-style frocks from the 1920s, a new exhibition at the Albert Hall will trace the history of bridal wear.
“Brideswear Revisited”, curated by Ballarat-based vintage collectors Fiona and Keith Baverstock, features vintage wedding gowns and accessories from as early as 1810 to the 1930s.
Fiona and Keith have spent the past seven years growing their collection of vintage wedding dresses, many bought from auctions all over the world.
A selection are from the Castle Howard bridal collection, the English country estate used in the TV series “Brideshead Revisited”, which once housed the largest costume and textile collection in Europe.
“From the auctions we learnt a lot about the history of the dresses, which is just fascinating,” says Fiona.
One of the most glamorous gowns is from 1900, worn by an Australian bride who lived on a homestead near the Victorian goldfields.
“The dress is made of clotted cream slipper satin, the skirt applied with lace motifs, pintucking and passementerie baubles,” Fiona says.
“The bodice is decorated with brussels and guipure lace, again with passementerie baubles and the sash was added when a second family bride wore the gown.”
Another standout is a circa 1883 gown worn by an aristocratic bride from Europe’s minor royals.
“The gown is of heavy duchesse satin, embroidered with pearls, beads and French knots,” Fiona says.
“The swagged pleats over the hips and the puffed and ruched bustle serve to emphasise the bride’s tiny waist, as do the tight lacing and padding on the bodice.”
Some of the gowns are shrouded in mystery, says Fiona – “There’s a beautiful gown we were told a sad Scottish bride never got to wear, but we don’t know why – perhaps she was jilted at the altar!”
As for today’s would-be vintage brides, a selection of the dresses will be available for purchase at the exhibition.
“I think many of the vintage dresses could still be worn today as they are just so timeless and with such beautiful fabrics,” Fiona says.
“Girls seem to love the 1930s dresses with those wonderful cuts, or often if they’ve got lace, it’s the sort of lace you just don’t get today, the detailing, is something you just don’t get anymore.”
“Brideswear Revisited”, as part of Frock Up Canberra, will be held at the Albert Hall on Friday October 25, 6pm – 9pm; Saturday, October 26, 10am- 5pm, and Sunday, October 27, 10am-4pm.