Famous wedding gowns set for capital

Apr 24, 2011   //   by Abbey Strutt   //   No Comments

BRIDAL BLUSH: John Galliano for Dior wedding dress and veil, and bespoke suit worn by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale in September 2002.

The royal wedding may be just days away, but there’s another bridal spectacular on the horizon.

A special exhibition of wedding gowns documenting 200 years of bridal fashion from London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) collection is coming to Te Papa.

The exhibition is not opening until December 17, but Te Papa’s fashion curators are “quivering” with anticipation at the prospect of seeing the show, which includes couture gowns from Vivienne Westwood, Norman Hartnell, Charles Federick Worth, Lanvin, Dior and Vera Wang.

Older pieces include a Norman Hartnell embroidered silk satin gown from 1933, given and worn by Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. Hartnell was a royal favourite and designed the Queen’s wedding and coronation gowns.

There will be a couture Vera Wang bridal gown made of satin and tissue organza from Wang’s 2007 bridal collection, and a gown from Christian Lacroix’s 1993 couture collection. The latter features a black ziberline corset worn over an embroidered tulle body, and a skirt of ivory ziberline draped to reveal a chenille embroidered black organza petticoat.

There is also a flirty silk wedding dress from Lanvin’s 2008 bridal collection that was worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in the bridal photoshoot scene in Sex and the City: The Movie, as well as the wedding dress Zandra Rhodes designed for Elizabeth Emanuel (designer of Princess Diana’s wedding gown).

Most of these dresses are from the V&A’s vast collection, but the exhibition includes a few loans, such as the vibrant purple Vivienne Westwood haute couture gown that burlesque artist Dita Von Teese wore when she married Marilyn Manson in 2005, complete with matching hat by British milliner Stephen Jones, and shoes by Christian Louboutin.

Singer Gwen Stefani has also lent her John Galliano for Dior wedding dress and veil.

In the leadup to the exhibition, Te Papa is photographing its own collection of about 35 to 40 wedding dresses and documenting them on its website. Gems include a daring yellow and gold gown in Thai silk worn by Dawn Velma Harris in 1961. The unusually short length was disguised by a detachable overskirt.

The museum also holds the Annie Bonza-designed dress worn by singer Debbie Harwood when she married Ian Morris of band Th’ Dudes.

The outer surface of the dress is almost completely decorated with braid, ribbon, sequins and applique, with many of these formed into words or symbols representative of aspects of the couple’s lives and careers.

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