The Duchess of Cornwall’s exquisite Anna Valentine wedding dress is set to be the centrepiece of an exhibition opening at the V & A this week.
The dove-grey silk gown, which she wore on her wedding day to Prince Charles in 2005, will go on display for an exhibition entitled Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014, along with a number of aristocratic and celebrity gowns from those periods.
Among the stunning bridal wear on display at the highly-anticipated show, is the revealing frock worn by Lady Mary Charteris in 2012, the stunning purple Vivienne Westwood wedding dress chosen by Dita Von Teese for her wedding to Marilyn Manson, and the dip-dyed pink and ivory John Galliano-designed dress worn by Gwen Stefani at her 2004 wedding to Gavin Rossdale.
Displayed chronologically over two floors, alongside the dresses there will be a selection of accessories including jewellery, shoes, garters, veils, wreaths, hats and corsetry as well as fashion sketches and personal photographs on show. Garments worn by bridegrooms and attendants will also be on display.
The exhibition will investigate the histories of the garments, revealing fascinating and personal details about the lives of the wearers, giving an intimate insight into their occupations, circumstances and fashion choices.
Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 will also explore the growth of the wedding industry and the effect of increasing media focus on wedding fashions. Improvements in photography in the early 20th century encouraged photojournalism and society weddings were reported in detail in the national press and gossip columns.
Two of the most spectacular wedding dresses on show will be the Norman Hartnell dress made for Margaret Whigham (later Duchess of Argyll) for her marriage to Charles Sweeny (1933), and the Charles James ivory silk satin dress worn by Barbara 'Baba' Beaton for her marriage to Alec Hambro (1934).
These dramatic dresses will be seen alongside archive film and news clippings of the occasionsas examples of society ‘celebrity’ weddings.
Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 is at the V&A from May 3 until March 15, 2015. Details: vam.ac.uk