VAMFF ARTS PROGRAM 2020 | FROM VICTORIA TO MEGHAN: The hidden stories behind British royal wedding gowns with Nicole Jenkins

Tuesday 10 Mar 2020, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Since early times we have thrilled to admire the finery as worn by the monarchy on their most splendid of days. Weddings are political alliances as much as romantic events, but the richness of their adornment is unsurpassed and provide an important support to local industries and recognition of communities and colonies.

When a youthful Queen Victoria choose Honiton lace and Spitalfields silk for her gown in 1840, she was promoting the skills of the Devon lace-making industry and the fine products of the East London weavers, but she was also changing the way we dress. Her unusual choice of white remains the preferred colour to this day.

Similarly, American Meghan Markle chose a British designer, Clare Waight Keller, to create her elegant and simple gown in 2018. Also made of white silk, the similarities with Victoria’s end there, but her silk veil was embroidered with floral motifs from countries of the Commonwealth and the California Poppy from her own native land.

This lecture will be an examination of the history and impact of British royal wedding gowns over the last 170 years, including the styles worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Wallis Simpson the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Anne and Princess Diana. All reveal details about the women who wore them, their status and future roles and changed the way we celebrate our own marriages.

Nicole Jenkins is the award‐winning author of books ‘Love Vintage’ and ‘Style is Eternal’ and a collector of Australian fashion. A costume designer by trade and fashion historian by nature, she’s currently completing her Master’s degree in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin University. She wed in pink beaded 1930s silk crepe and previously she presented a lecture at The Johnston Collection on ‘Collecting Fashionable Dress: private collections in Australia’ (2019).

by Samuel William Reynolds, the younger (English, 1773 – 1835)
published by John William Laird, (active 1839-1846)
after Frederick William Lock (English / Canadian, active 1845-1871)
The Bridal Morn (Queen Victoria; Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha), published 1841
[or 10th February 1840: Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and Prince Albert (1819-1861) on their return from the marriage service at St James's Palace, London]
Mezzotint on paper | plate size 730 mm x 525 mm
Image source Wiki Commons

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