December 3, 2010

Bridal wear from the pages of history

For last week's instalment of vintage sewing magazine images, I showed you some from the French "Revue de la mode". I went on at some length about the differences between those and the ones from the Dutch "Record".
So, for this week, I thought it would be fun to show the two of them side by side. To make the comparison a bit more fair, I picked a category in which 3 (or 15) months rarely make a difference: bridal wear.

This is the wedding gown page from "Record" for spring 1952. The shorter dress with the suggestion of colour, pictured on the left side of the right page, is obviously meant for a bridesmaid or something like that. These wedding dresses are charming, but also rather conventional. They all tie in very well with the 1950's tradition for pure and innocent looking brides.

This, on the other hand is the bridal wear page of "Revue" for winter 1951. Now, I know I said I prefered the tamer styles of the Dutch, but for the wedding dresses, I don't. This slightly older magazine shows much more diversity, and in some of its offerings, it embraces the notion of a glamorous and even sexy bride.
I'm sure the dark dress at the back of the page is meant for a sophisticated wedding guest, and I'm not entirely sure about the white one next to it (although, that is a full-length white dress, and she's got a veil). And the one next to that, with the shorter, possibly coloured dress and small head-band veil, is probably a bridesmaid.
Anyway, next to the standard full skirted gown, there is a sleek style with a plunging neckline and even a semi-suit-like creation with a shorter skirt at the front. All of which are definately intended for the bride.

Of course, the two also share characteristics such as the apperently fashionable shapes of the veils and the fact that all these dresses have sleeves. The notion of a conventional wedding dress being strapless is really a fairly recent development. Weddings took place by daylight and such a display of skin was strictly for evening. And, along with being white, the colour of purity, the style of the dress was also for a long time supposed to express a virginal and modest image.
You can see all of that very well in these craft magazine images, from 70 years earlier.

december 1879
and september 1880
All show bride and guest(s). This was a more regulated time and the long sleeves and high necklines of all the women show that this was a daytime event. The brides all have big veils and wear white (popularized, if I remember correctly, by queen Victoria's wedding earlier in the 19th century. The symbolism must have appealed to the Victorians), but otherwise their dresses are pretty much the same as same as any other posh day dresses of their time.

These images come from this book of mine. These are re-prints of the 1879/1879 issues of 19th century craft and sewing magazine "De Gracieuse". The magazine had complicated French and German roots, but this is a Dutch publication. It used to come with pattern sheets, but unfortunately, those were not included in this mid-20th century reprint. Its pages are packed with engravings like these and tightly printed describtions of needlework, embroidery, knitting and crochet projects.

Based on these magazines, one could make interesting observations about changes in fashion by realising that only 10 years more passed between the publishing dates of "De Gracieuse" and "Revue", than between the publishing date of "Revue" and this day...


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