This summer, the Gallery of Costume
, Platt Hall will present Something Blue, a show which will explore the past hundred years of British bridal fashion from 1914-2014. The exhibition will display a selection of diverse bridal dresses alongside their contemporary wedding portraits from the Gallery of Costumes extensive collections as well as recent acquisitions and loans. It will offer a unique insight into some of the individual stories of British brides, exploring the broad range of personal choices from classic, white gowns to unconventional dresses that have challenged the norm.
As the first bridal fashion exhibition to be staged within Platt Hall for over 30 years, a beautiful Georgian house in Manchester, Something Blue will display 18 unique wedding dresses. Gowns on display will have been worn by a wide array of British brides including a mill worker, the wife of a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, a woman serving in the air force as well as the wedding dresses of art world figures Kathleen Soriano, judge on Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year and Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries and the Whitworth Art Gallery.
Something Blue will separate dresses into two periods; the rococo dining room will house dresses from 1914-1958 and the main exhibition room will house dresses from 1961 to the present day. The show will illustrate the changes in styles, materials and fashion trends in wedding dresses throughout the century. From brides using parachute silk in the 1940s due to the rationing of materials, to the dismissal of traditional gowns in favour of more modern suits or shorter dresses in the 1960s, and some brides preference of coloured dresses in the 1990s, the exhibition aims to showcase creativity and personal choice.
Highlighting the individual 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 will be 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 will recount individual and intimate stories of the brides and their gowns.
Many of the exhibited dresses within Something Blue have also originated from Manchester and the surrounding area. Two dresses by Manchester designer Jean Jackson will be exhibited within the show as well as floral arrangements by Manchester-based florist, Frog Floral Artistry. The earliest dress to go on display has been 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 exhibitions connection to the craft of the surrounding region.