Thursday, August 09, 2012

The novice's way to enjoy The Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Family and friends who have an interest in wedding fashion will be delighted to learn about the latest exhibition, The Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion from the Victoria and Albert Museum, held at the National Museum of Singapore from 8 Aug - 31 Oct 2012.

Before I begin this blog, I have a confession to make. I am quite a novice when it comes to appreciating fashion. How do I begin? What do I look out for?

Then again, perhaps one of the privileges of being a novice is that one can learn with an open mind?

If you should find it entertaining to read about how a novice like myself would approach The Wedding Dress exhibition, please continue to read on.

Identify the dresses that appeal to you
Good works of art will appeal to our senses. As a novice, one of my ways to approach an exhibition on wedding fashion was to browse through the entire exhibition and identify the ones that appeals to my senses. It is perfectly alright that my choices are different from those of my friends and other visitors. Afterall, everyone's life experiences, personality and preferences may differ.

Wedding dress designed by Christian Lacroix.
  • The wedding dress designed by Christian Lacroix in 1992 attracted my attention with its bold and daring design. The materials that went into making the dress were pretty interesting too. These were silk net, lycra and silk satin, gold leaf, chenille embroidery, paste gems and costume jewellery. Take a closer look at this wedding dress and you will realize that this dress has an asymmetrical design.
Wedding gown designed by Norman Hartnell.

  • Initially, I did not think much about the wedding gown that was designed by Norman Hartnell. This wedding gown was one of the centerpieces of the exhibition. It was worn by society beauty, Margaret Whigham, for her marriage to Charles Sweeny in 1933. However, when I looked at the train of the gown from the back of the gown, I could not help but be mesmerized by the beautifully embroidered patterns of stars on the 2.6 metres train. The materials used for this dress were silk satin and tulle, embroidered with glass beads.
Wedding gown designed by Norman Hartnell.

  • The trouser suit designed by Ossie Clark caught my eyes with its unconventional design. The prints on the trouser designed by Celia Birtwell added a feminine touch to the suit. Would you wear a trouser suit for your wedding?
Left: Trouser suit designed by Ossie Clark.

Read the words on exhibition panels and find a story that touches your heart
In this exhibition, the curators have thoughtfully done extensive research on each of the wedding dresses and accessories that are put on display. While I do acknowledge that the wedding dresses are more visually appealing than the write-ups on the exhibition panels, it can be an enlightening experience to spend time reading through all the exhibition panels to find a story that touches one's heart.

  • One of my favourite stories from The Wedding Dress exhibition was about a wartime dress made of curtain fabric. This dress was worn by the florist, Elizabeth King, on 6 Sep 1941 when she married Ralph Rowland Absalom. She had married in wartime and due to shortages in supplies, certain types of cloth were subjected to rationing. Being resourceful, Elizabeth King had her wedding dress made of lightweight upholstery material which was not subject to rationing.

Forget about the brides' dresses and look at what the bridegrooms would wear
During the opening reception of the exhibition, The Wedding Dress, I thought it was rather apt that Ms Lee Chor Lin, Director of the National Museum of Singapore, acknowledged the contributions of the bridegrooms in her welcome address. While most people will find it enticing to look at the wedding dresses worn by the brides, it can be quite a refreshing experience to focus our attention to what the bridegrooms would wear.

Left: Wedding kilt and shoes designed by Vivienne West
  • I was immediately drawn to the Wedding kilt and shoes designed by Vivienne Westwood. This was commissioned by William Sheehy for his wedding. I learnt that many bridegrooms of Scottish and Irish ancestry wear kilts for their wedding.

Discover one thing new to you
There may be times when neither the dresses nor the personal stories behind the wedding dresses appeal to us. If this were to be the case, simply ask yourself if you could find at least one thing that is new to you from the exhibition. Learning something new can be a pleasure.

  • I have had no clue what the objects below were until I read and learnt that these are garters. Garters are narrow bands of fabric that are fastened about the leg to keep stockings from slipping. I learnt that in the 19th and 20th centuries, wedding garters were worn as tokens of good fortune.

There will be free guided tours to this exhibition starting as early as 21 Aug. In addition, from 8 - 31 Aug 2012, there will be a discount in the admission charges to this exhibition. For more information on The Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion from the Victoria and Albert Museum, please visit

The Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion from the Victoria and Albert Museum
National Museum of Singapore
From 8 Aug - 31 Oct 2012.
93 Stamford Road
Singapore 178897

Nearest MRT stations: Dhoby Ghaut and Bras Basah.


Robe de mariée said...

Very good collection of olden time wedding dresses. Simple and Elegant

oceanskies79 said...

Robe de mariée, thank you for your comments. I hope you will have the pleasure to visit this exhibition.

Wedding Makeup said...

WOW! awesome collection of old time looks simple and elegant....All collection of dresses is fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Did you snap a shot of the exhibition panel story of the wedding dress by Norman Hartnell? It would be great if u can post it on ur post?

oceanskies79 said...

Anonymous, thanks for your interest.

Could you please email me on your request at my email address which is found on the upper left part of the page where there's an introduction on me please?

In short, the panel reads "Society beauty Margaret Whigham wore this magnificient Hartnell-designed wedding gown for her marriage to Charles Sweeny in 1933."

chere wedding planners said...

It's nice to see wedding dresses from various cultures and eras. One thing hasn't changed, is that the wedding dress is made to allow the bride to feel like the most attractive woman on her special day. Such a shame that I wasn't able to go to the exhibition.

oceanskies79 said...

Chere Wedding Planners:
Thanks for your comments. May you have a chance to visit the V&A Museum in London to see the wedding dresses. :)