Historic clothing of any variety can be a fascinating insight into social customs, bringing us literally in touch with people of the past, whether they were well-known names or ordinary individuals. Cutting across all social strata, bridal clothing, whether a white masterpiece of silk and lace, or a lovingly home-made best dress, shares the common experience of being created and worn for a milestone event in one's life.
Set aside with loving remembrance, stored with assorted family memorabilia, or perhaps overlooked and forgotten for decades, these gowns reflect the fashions of their times, as worn by middle-class women. And because of the very nature of this most festive and personal celebration, they show a glimpse of the varied tastes, and hint at the personalities of the women who wore them - and who were, on their special day, not so very different from the brides of today.
Shades of White is a limited exhibition, running from May-August, 1999.