Central Saint Martins – Week 5 In Pictures

This week I arrived at college to find a huge wall in the communal area devoted to student feedback. How did they feel about their new venue? What did they like and dislike? Answers, please!

I was gleeful to discover that students in 2012 are as silly and self-indulgent as they were when I went to university, back in the Jurassic era – ahem, the early 1990s.

Student debate over the really important matters is alive and kicking!

As for myself, I arrived for class early and went to exploit the library for my writing. One of my novels is set in 1835 and I want to find out more about the dresses then. Specifically, wedding dresses.

The most helpful from these books was ‘English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century‘ by CW Cunnington. It provides a year-by-year breakdown of fashions. Did you know that in 1835, women were wearing ‘ear-rings of enormous length, imitating fruit and flowers’ or that evening gloves finished below the elbow? No details of wedding dresses in 1835, here, though I have found evidence elsewhere that wedding dresses as we know them were being worn at this time:

1835 wedding dress

Isn’t that lovely? Is that a cupid’s arrow holding her veil in place? What I really need is something that has pictures and words – I really feed off the descriptions. Language is used (often in describing fabric) that I couldn’t begin to approximate in my 21st-century voice – but I can borrow. If anyone out there can recommend references … you know what to do!

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9 Responses to Central Saint Martins – Week 5 In Pictures

  1. MrsC says:

    Hiya, the V&A have put out a book to go with their “200 years of wedding fashion” exhibition (currently residing in our very own Te Papa I am thrillled to say!) and while it is light on the loafers in many respects, it has some great retellings from newspapers of the time in it also. And talks you through what was happening around that time. It was definitely a time where a poor to middle class bride would wear a day dress, either her Sunday best or have a new one made, and wear a bonnet, whereas a rich bride of status would wear a specially made white or silver dress with a tiara and veil. Queen Vic really rocked the wedding boat by wearing white instead of silver, like an ‘ordinary’ woman, to show that she was a bride first and a queen second. And just like today, the royal wedding gripped everyone in wedding fever and the industry took off. But that was later than 1835.
    I am sure it would be in the V&A shop too. And maybe Edwina Ehrman would let you interview her? She is such a lovely, interesting lady and she sparkles when talking about wedding dresses. Andher favourite era is the 1820’s so not far off!

  2. Well now I’m wondering what the hot blonde guy looks like. Although I’ve always been more partial to darker/red hair.

  3. Spikeabell says:

    What a familiar pile of books! I did a pattern making course in costume in a similar Jurrasic period to your university years. We would often utter “try looking in Boucher” as reference book titles got pared down to the Authors first or last name… or may be “what about Janet then?” (Janet Arnold). I love some of the extra bits you learn about society when researching costume…a favourite of mine was a little snippet about the likely meals and drinks a lady in waiting (to one of Henry 8ths Queens) would be provided with in a day. Way, way more beer than I had expected!

  4. Nikki says:

    Glad the library is providing some resources! Not that I’m biased at all, being a librarian by day! I love the thought of a possible cupid’s arrow in the headdress! It does however seem like typical “hidden” Victorian humour. Seeing as MrsC has already suggested the V&A exhibition catalogue, I can’t recommend it. I could however go to the exhibition (seeing as it’s just down the hill!) and get some postcards or something for you, if they will help?? I was hoping to get a look at the exhibition anyway.

  5. Felicity from Down Under says:

    there was no mention of IT in the pre-Jurassic (early 70s) when I was at uni, but by and large, as you say, the more things change the more they stay the same. What a great place to do fantastic, fun research – and thanks for sharing it with us. It sounds fascinating.

  6. LinB says:

    Most brides in that era simply wore a very nice dress, that was meant to serve them as “Sunday best” for years and years. In the U.S., that might mean that the bride and her mother made the homespun fabric for the dress, depending on how far they were from a city or town. (If there was a formal wedding at all: sometimes folk lived as “married” for years before a circuit-riding preacher came through their area. Or if they lived in an unincorporated place on the frontier.)

  7. Claire says:

    I don’t know any specific books, but maybe it would be helpful to look at art history texts if you want pictures – especially if you find one on portraiture. You could also browse portraiture and artworks on museum web pages. I found this in a quick search: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/C.I.37.46.5

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