With over thirty vintage wedding dresses taking up too much space in her home, Glory Days Creative Director and vintage clothing collector, Rose Jackson, decided the only thing to do was to host an exhibition to showcase the gowns, run a series of public events to celebrate marriages past and present and auction off the collection to raise money for a charity that supports women escaping domestic violence.
The exhibition – on now at Auckland's historic Highwic House – will explore changes in bridal fashion over the 20th century, focusing on and showcasing vintage wedding dresses from the 1930s to the 1970s. Aside from giving the public an opportunity to get up close to these precious textiles, Till Death Us Do Part will delve into the social history of weddings, exploring historical shifts and changes in cultural attitudes towards love and marriage.
Historian Angela Lassig says; “This exhibition represents a wonderful and rare opportunity to reminisce and delight in five decades of glorious wedding frocks that have been lovingly collected over the past decade by curator, Rose Jackson.
"From fine silk tulle and cobweb laces, to ice white chiffon and synthetic brocades, it is not only a feast for the eyes but a glimpse into the private world of New Zealand brides from the past”.
Curator Rose Jackson says, “The wedding dress is such a potent symbol in our culture – in turns beautiful, oppressive, desirable, outdated.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.
"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.
"Through this exhibition, I want people to explore cultural attitudes towards marriage, which can be teased out from fabric and stitches that hold these dresses together. 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.
As well as the displays and programme of events, the gowns will be auctioned off at the end of the exhibition. The auction of the collection is planned to run online, so anyone in the world will be able to bid on a beautiful piece of New Zealand’s textile history, whether they want to wear it on their special day or simply admire it hanging in their wardrobe!
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will go to The Aunties – an organisation which provides sustained support for women and children who have experienced domestic violence. The Aunties believe in manaakitanga – protecting the mana of the people they help so that they can find their way towards living independently, with dignity and joy.
Till Death Us Do Part: Fifty Years of Vintage Wedding Style
14th May – 30th June 2017
Highwic – Mortimer Pass, Newmarket, Auckland
Click here for more information.