03 Jul 2013

Aisle of Style: 70 Years of Wedding Fashion

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Wedding DressOn Wednesday, July 3, 2013, the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville-Christian County will unveil a new exhibit that showcases 70 years of wedding fashions. Dating from 1887 – 1954, these dresses represent popular fashion trends from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries. Six wedding dresses are featured, each with its own story and style.

The earliest dress on display was worn on December 8, 1887 by Zeula Davidson Bogard, a belle of Lafayette. Made of silk brocade and wool, this two-piece ensemble exemplifies romance and elegance. The hand-made lace and beautiful printed fabric are simply stunning.

Easily the most shocking in the exhibit, the wedding dress worn by Allie Lyle McKnight on July 4, 1888 is made of silk taffeta…in black! Although it may appear as morbid wedding attire by today’s standards, black was, in fact, a relatively common color worn by brides before the turn of the 20th century. Black was a functional, practical choice, and custom called for a bride to wear black if she was marrying a widower. Although we cannot be certain that Allie was following this tradition, we can be certain that she did marry a widower. It wasn’t until Queen Victoria chose to wear a white wedding dress in 1840 that the tradition of brides wearing white really began, and it naturally took decades for the trend to catch on and become a true tradition.

The next two dresses in the series are family heirlooms that have been passed down and worn by two generations. A long dress of dotted Swiss-style lace was first worn in 1907, and after a few alterations, it was donned again in 1937 by the first bride’s daughter. A slinky silk and lace number on display was worn in 1935 by the bride of a young jeweler. That bride’s granddaughter discovered the dress years later, fell in love with it, and wore it on her wedding day in 1980.

Also on display is a flapper-style dress transported straight from 1925. This dropped waist silk organza number showed off the bride’s ankles with its higher hemline. It also showed off her silk stockings – which 1920s Wedding Dressare also on display with their original garters.

Our most contemporary gown was worn in 1954 at old Ninth Street Christian Church in downtown Hopkinsville by Mildred Estes Jackson. This long-sleeve satin and lace gown has a Cathedral train that highlights its ultra feminine style. Miss Estes wore this dress in her wedding to Charles Jackson, avid circus fan, collector, and namesake of our very own Charles Jackson Circus Museum.

The bridal fashion show will be on display through Saturday, August 10, 2013. We hope that you will take a walk down the aisle with us as we celebrate the summer wedding season!


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