Saturday, 30 January 2010

Vintage wedding dress hunting: The V&A archive

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is one of my favourite places for fashion and design inspiration - and I recently discovered that, although they don't shout about it, anyone - yes, anyone! - can arrange a private appointment to view their incredible archive of wedding dresses - including painstakingly preserved Edwardian and Victorian era dresses, 20s flapper styles, right up to 80s meringues. Well, obviously I couldn't resist, and it actually proved a fascinating first step in finding the perfect dress.

So Mum and I made an appointment and hot footed it down to South Ken, where the lovely Edwina (in charge of preserving and cataloguing the thousands of dresses in the museum's collection) led us down corridor after corridor, until we reached an unassuming door that opened to reveal a gleaming white room filled with what looked like giant fridges - all filled with dresses! (You can also arrange to see non-wedding dresses, such as their near perfect Dior collection of 50s New Look styles.)

Dresses were laid out for us and we donned lab coats and gloves to inspect more closely. Each dress came with its own fascinating story, such as the 1940s wartime bride who made her own dress out of curtain material due to rationing - and it still looked beautiful.

The V&A is also planning a Wedding Dress exhibition for 2013, and it is asking members of the public to upload their own photos of unusual dresses onto the museum's website - the results are a great source of inspiration for vintage dress hunters.

Below are some of my photos from our day in the "lab" - I particularly love the 20s "fairy" dress, and the beautifully embroidered cuffs and covered buttons on the demure 1940s shapes.

1 comment:

  1. My heart has just skipped a beat.. seriously? anyone can make an appointment and see all those divine frocks?? swooooooon.......
    What a treat! Spent so many happy hours at the V and A costume and clothes when I was a little girl( and a little adult!)
    Am definitely going to do this, do you think I'd have to pretend I'm getting married again?