The Wedding Dress Affect

As UK socialite and media darling Poppy Delevingne married James Cook at St.Paul’s church yesterday, we are reminded – mainly through the lack of images of her day on the internet but widespread coverage of her “shocking instagram ban” instead – how weddings are as much a public event as a private celebration.

Wedding dress at the v&a
Embroidered silk satin wedding dress designed by Norman Hartnell, 1933 Worn by Margaret Whigham for her marriage to Charles Sweeny
kate moss wedding dress
Kate Moss wore a vintage-style cream dress and matching floor-length veil, designed by close friend John Galliano when she married Jamie Hince.
and Jamie Hince.
gwen stefani wedding dress
Gwen Stefani wore a Dior dip-dyed silk faille gown for her 2002 marriage to rocker Gavin Rossdale


Whether you are in the public eye, or just in view of your many followers or ‘friends’ on social media, the dress and subsequent photos of it after the big day, seems to be THE most important element and the lasting impression of the occasion.

This is even more prominent in the V&A’s increasingly popular and well-reviewed current exhibition, Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014. An homage to the dress, the exhibition sums up one of the most important days of someone’s life in an outfit – whether the woman in question is a farmers daughter getting married in a practical dress she can wear again in 1780, or Gwen Stefani marrying in Dior in 2002.

The fascinating and well presented exhibition, demonstrates how little has changed when it comes to the weddings of the rich and famous, and how these go on to influence fashion trends in the mass wedding market. A piece explains how Queen Victoria wed in 1840 wearing English lace to promote British manufacture, which in turn, encouraged other brides to do the same. Fast-forward over 200 years later and you have Kate Middleton’s choice of English fashion designer Sarah Burton causing a similar ripple effect in sales of dresses with delicate lace sleeves and V-necklines.

The appetite for an inside peek into someone’s wedding day and an up-close look at the dress has never been stronger than today in our social media age. I mean, no one can forget the revealing, sheer paneled Pam Hogg dress worn by Lady Mary Charteris at her wedding to Robbie Furze, on display at the V&A amongst other iconic dresses from the past decade. This fascination is evident as far back as 1933, where the exhibition displays the dress designed by Norman Hartnell worn by Margaret Whigham for her marriage to Charles Sweeny. Video footage from the day shows women crowding around the entrance of the church, all waiting for a glimpse of the bride and her infamous gown with the never-ending train.
In some cases at the V&A, all that remains as a memory of the women who wore them is the dress. Pieces that date back over 300 years can be difficult to trace, so although their origins are clear, the names are long gone.

With a few wedding invitations in my diary for this summer, I will be too distracted by the events on the day to focus too long on the dress, but now I know it might be a lasting memory of that woman, maybe I’ll look for a little longer. No pressure ladies 😉

R x
Twitter: @RachaelKMartin
Instagram: rachaelkimi

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