Till Death Do Us Part exhibition showcases Vintage Wedding Dresses

Models in vintage wedding dresses from the upcoming exhibition. Image by Hayley Theyers.

A beautiful new exhibition, Till Death Us Do Part, featuring a collection of thirty vintage wedding dresses opens on May 14th at Highwic, a historic house in Newmarket. Curator, Rose Jackson, has been a dedicated vintage clothing collector for many years and decided that the dresses were taking up too much space in her home so the best idea was to share them in an exhibition with the gowns auctioned off at the conclusion of it to benefit survivors of domestic violence. Jackson is the Creative Director of Glory Days, the successful vintage publishing and events brand and she is delighted to be able to share not just her wedding dress collection but her extensive vintage knowledge and events skills with a programme of talks and live events such as Miss Havisham’s Day Out running in conjunction with the exhibition.

“The wedding dress is such a potent symbol in our culture –in turns beautiful, oppressive, desirable, outdated. I’ve collected vintage clothing for many years as I adore beautiful textiles, which wedding dresses have in abundance,” says Rose Jackson. “From a sociological point of view, I’m interested in the tension between the sublime beauty, hope and love that is imbued into these particular garments and the reality of everyday life that follows “the big day” once the dress is taken off”.

The new exhibition will run until the end of June and explores changes in bridal fashions over the 20th century, with the gowns showcased from the 1930s to the 1970s. Jackson has collaborated with historian Angela Lassig on a fascinating talk they will give together on treasure hunting for vintage finds and the secret history of New Zealand bridal designers. “This exhibition represents a wonderful and rare opportunity to reminisce and delight in five decades of glorious New Zealand wedding frocks that have been lovingly collected over the past decade by curator, Rose Jackson,” says Angela Lassig. “From fine silk tulle and cobweb laces, to ice white chiffon and synthetic brocades, this exhibition is not only a feast for the eyes but a glimpse into the private world of New Zealand brides from the past”.

As well as the delicately pretty fashion on display the exhibition will also document the social history of weddings, exploring the cultural and historical changes towards love and marriage over the past century. There is also an opportunity for visitors to share their own memories and stories of their weddings online to be included in the exhibition – both the good and the bad!

“Through this exhibition, I want people to explore cultural attitudes towards marriage, which can be teased out from the fabric and stitches that hold these dresses together,” says Rose Jackson. “I find it fascinating that while there were huge changes in fit, cut and style of women’s fashion over the course of the 20th century, the wedding dress essentially stayed the same –a long, pale gown. What does this say about attitudes towards marriage in the face of huge cultural and gender shifts over the 20th and into the 21st centuries? Has thinking on marriage and what it means to people progressed or remained as constant as the dresses worn on a wedding day?”.

The auction of the exhibition’s gowns will take place online so that vintage collectors worldwide will be able to bid on a unique piece of fashion history. Jackson is kindly donating a portion of the proceeds to The Aunties –an organisation which provides sustained support for women and children who have experienced domestic violence. “Over thirty wedding dresses is a ridiculous number for any one person to own and not everyone’s marriage or partnership is a joyful one, so I am delighted to auction these gorgeous gowns off and that part of the funds raised from sale of the collection will benefit and support the vitally important work The Aunties do for people who need help in our community” says Rose Jackson.

Till Death Us Do Part, Highwic, May 14th – June 30th. Tickets: Adult $8, Children free of charge.

Models in vintage wedding dresses from the upcoming exhibition. Image by Hayley Theyers.

Images supplied.

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