I spent a day volunteering at Rippon Lea House and Gardens in Melbourne recently, taking tickets, providing directions and chatting to visitors at the Love Desire and Riches exhibition.
The display of 50 famous and rarely seen wedding gowns and accessories was a popular one, with almost only women coming along. The house itself is magnificent, with beautiful polychrome brickwork and stunning stained glass. I love the way the veils appeared to float in the stairwell.
One room was dedicated to wedding gown design and construction. That was a disappointment with very few items on display and those seeming quite randomly selected, and a mixture of old and new. There’s an interesting story to be told about wedding gown construction and the many steps along the way but this room failed to tell it. That was particularly disappointing when you consider that one of Melbourne’s leading wedding couturiers was a major sponsor of the exhibition.
Of greatest interest to me was a mauve toned dress that is part of the Trust’s Costume Collection. I don’t have a photo unfortunately but it was a beautifully made Victorian gown and I learned that mauve, as the colour of mourning was often worn by a bride marrying a widower, though this did not apply to the bride in this particular case. Maybe she just liked mauve.
There was also a couture gown worn by Princess Marie Chantal of Greece on display. Apparently it’s a popular item because it was worn by a ‘real princess.’