Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why are Bridal Gowns usually White?

I have been hunting for the perfect champagne colored lace- in a sea of white and ivory- to use for my niece's bridal gown, and it got me thinking about laces and the tradition of using white for wedding dresses.

When asked why wedding gowns are usually white, most people will say that traditionally, white was worn as a sign of purity. Well, actually, that wasn't really true until the 1920's or so. Throughout history, brides wore their best dress, whatever the color. White was used as a bride's choice primarily to show wealth and status. Creating a white fabric was a costly process, therefore the using of it showed the family's wealth. 

Queen Victoria, being a fashion icon, popularized the wearing of white and lace when she married her true love, Albert in 1840. It was considered unusual as colored gowns had been the norm. For Victoria, it was a political move. She chose Honiton lace, a British lace made in Honiton, Devon, providing a much needed boost to the local lace industry. She certainly wasn't the first to wear white for her wedding, but being one of the most popular royals ever, she is associated with the tradition.

Queen Victoria Wedding
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's wedding, 1840

Queen Victoria poses in her wedding dress
A portrait of Queen Victoria in her Honiton lace wedding gown

Here are some beautiful up close photos of Honiton lace. It is a hand woven bobbin lace and like all bobbin laces, it is very time consuming to produce. It can take about 4-5 hours to make a centimeter of lace.

Detail of Honiton lace lappet, Cardiff, mid-19th century

File:WLA vanda Wedding Dress worn Eliza Penelope Clay Joseph Bright 1865.jpg
1865 wedding ensemble trimmed with Honiton lace.

Prince William, Prince George
Prince George in a replica of the Honiton lace christening gown worn by his father.
nwar Hussein/WireImage; John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association via AP Images

This beautiful lace is still in use. In fact, little Prince George, was christened in a gown made from Honiton lace, just as were generations before him.
So, there you go, a few little tidbits on weddings and lace.


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