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Something Blue: Wedding fashions 1914-2014

Start Date 01 August 2014
End Date 27 September 2015
Venue Platt Hall Gallery of Costume, Manchester Art Gallery
Location Manchester, UK

Something Blue explored a hundred years of bridal fashion from the Gallery of Costume’s collections.

The 18 unique gowns that were on display were worn by a wide array of British brides including mill workers, wives of Lieutenants in the Royal Navy, women in the air force as well as the wedding dresses of art world figures Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts and Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries and the Whitworth Art Gallery.

The show illustrated the changes in styles, materials and fashion trends in wedding dresses throughout the century. From brides using parachute silk in the 1940’s due to the rationing of materials, to the dismissal of traditional gowns in favour of more modern suits or shorter dresses in the 1960’s, and some brides’ preference of coloured dresses in the 1990’s, the exhibition illustrates the wedding dresses of the periods.

Highlighting the personal stories behind each of the dresses displayed, portraits of the brides on their wedding days along with narratives about how the brides came to choose the particular dress are exhibited with the gowns. From descriptions of last minute haircuts and sale rail dresses to years of preparation and thought, each of the dresses displayed recounts individual and intimate stories of the brides and their gowns.

Many of the dresses in the exhibition have originated from Manchester and the surrounding area including two dresses by local Manchester designer Jean Jackson. The earliest dress to go on display was donated by Annie Appleton, a mill worker from nearby Todmorden who married in 1914, the day after the outbreak of The Great War, illustrating the exhibition’s connection to the craft of the surrounding region.