Having spent most of my life strategically hiding at marriages to dodge unidentified flying bouquets (and having successfully managed to escape any risks of being even remotely hit…), I’m definitely not the best person to write about wedding gowns.
Yet today I’m justified to do so since in this post wedding gowns are connected with films.
An exhibition entitled "Marriage in the Movies", recently opened at the National Museum of Costume in Dumfries, is currently exploring the craftsmanship and style behind a few wedding dresses that appeared on the big screen.
Traditions and mores may have changed in our times, but wedding customs are still strong in numerous societies.
Indeed, wedding gowns are still charged with symbolic meanings, hopes and expectations: though they differ from culture to culture, according to many anthropologists, wedding dresses do have something in common and that's the fact that they embody a rite of passage.
Recent years have seen a renewed interest in wedding gowns: Disney schemed a Machiavellian plot creating a bridal line for all those little girls who, grown up on a staple diet of princesses and fairy tales, may want to live the plastic dream in full with a dress from the Disney Bridal line (offering the groom enough grounds for divorce, especially if you pick the Beauty and the Beast-inspired dress, indirectly implying that if you're Belle, the other half is the unpleasant beast...).
High street retailers answered to this romantic avalanche of saccharin with something plain, simple and, above all, cheaper: the affordable ready-made wedding dress (remember the Viktor & Rolf for H&M gown?).
Like a classic white wedding dress, "Marriage in the Movies" doesn’t transgress any traditional expectations as it mainly focuses on a precise period of time (from the mid-1700s to 1930), examining costumes and also including a selection of bridal accessories from the National Museum of Costume collection, chronicling the history of wedding traditions in Scotland.
The costume designers who made these creations closely adhered to the style and period the stories took place in.
Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) featured for example beautiful costumes designed by James Acheson, nominated to multiple awards and winner of three Oscars for The Last Emperor (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Restoration (1995).
The "Marriage in the Movies" exhibition includes the wedding dress worn by Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein’s fiancée.
The pale silk dress, divided in two pieces, featured quite beautiful embroidered details in metallic thread and was characterised by double ruffled sleeves and a closed-front bodice, very typical elements of dresses from the 1770s.
The gown designed by Andrea Galer for Fanny Price (Frances O'Connor) in Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park (1999), based on Jane Austen’s novel, reflected the style of the time but also the simplicity and strong nature of the main character.
The dress featured indeed a limited amount of decorative elements in lace and tulle.
The wedding costume created by Anthony Powell (who won an Oscar for this production) for actress Nastassja Kinski, starring as the main character in the 1980 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the d’Ubervilles directed by Roman Polanski, showed an in-depth knowledge of the main character.
The costume included parts characterised by a rather simple and linear style (the sleeves) and over-elaborate and decorated parts (the frills and ruffles decorating the tiered skirt), becoming a metaphor for the life of Hardy's heroine who turns from the daughter of a poor man to mistress, wife and victim of a cruel destiny.
Tess’ dress reflects in a way her life and, rather than being a transitional object that allows her to pass from an existence she would like to abandon to a new life with Angel, it becomes the pivotal element towards destruction, the final separator from Angel.
Another famous wedding dress included in the exhibition is the cream gown with a silk bodice trimmed with lace designed by Jenny Beavan and John Bright that appeared in James Ivory’s Howard’s
The exhibition will be accompanied by a special event on 1st July, "A Day of Costume Drama", that will offer the chance to tour the exhibition, join an afternoon tea and then watch a special screening at the Robert Burns
Centre Film Theatre of Saul Dibb’s The Duchess (2008).
The wedding gown in this film featured gathered frills of silk on the front and a corset with elaborate embroideries in metal and fibre threads forming intricately dazzling patterns.
The film also has an interesting Italian connection since the Tirelli tailoring house contributed to some of its costumes.
"Marriage in the Movies" is at the National Museum of Costume, Shambellie House, New Abbey, Dumfries, until 31 October 2010.Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos Add to Technorati Favorites Lijit Search