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V&A’s Unveiled wedding gown exhibition débuts at Te Papa


February 8, 2012/1.55

Top Gwen Stefani’s wedding dress, by John Galliano. Above Dita von Teese’s wedding dress, by Vivienne Westwood.

Experience the world of wedding fashion with 200 years of extraordinary wedding fashion on display at Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, on loan from London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. The exhibition, Unveiled, displays everything from the traditional and practical through to the fantasy and love-themed attire.
   Remarkably, as Lucire discovered at the exhibition’s opening, Te Papa is hosting Unveiled before the V&A itself does—and it’s thanks to Cook Islands and Visa for their support in getting it here for its première.
   Some of the biggest names in international fashion have their garments on show for this exhibition: Charles Frederick Worth, Norman Hartnell, Charles James, Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood, Vera Wang, Christian Lacroix, Lanvin, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy among them. New Zealand labels World, Lindah Lepou and Jane Yeh are given similar pride of place, deservedly alongside their international counterparts.
   There are celebrity gowns—such as Dita von Teese’s by Vivienne Westwood and Gwen Stefani’s by John Galliano—as well as royalty. The exhibition reveals gowns, veils, corsetry, millinery and shoes from the 19th century up to today, from the 1914 silk brocade shoes from Peter Robinson, a 1933 embroidered silk satin wedding dress by Norman Hartnell, and a 1966 wedding dress and coat by John Bates.
   The exhibition deals with some of the questions such as: how has it that traditional western European white wedding dress has become the garment of choice for brides in many countries and cultures? What do wedding dress styles say about the social and economic conditions of their day?
   Unveiled runs till April 22 at the Visa Platinum Gallery at Te Papa. Charges apply.—Tania Naidu

Above, from top Embroidered wedding gown by Christian Lacroix, 1992. Silk satin dress by Charles James, worn by Baba Beaton. Silk dress by Charles Frederick Worth, worn by Clara Matthews. Dress by Norman Hartnell, worn by Margaret Whigham.

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Filed by Tania Naidu

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