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200 Years of Wedding Fashion

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This set features highlights from the Museum's large collection of wedding fashion, accessories, ephemera and images and is drawn from the Museum's extensive holdings of Australian and international fashion and dress. Spanning almost two centuries it primarily features Australian wedding style and stories from the beginning of European settlement to the present. The selection reflects changing styles and trends in wedding fashion in the context of the existing social, political and economic milieu.

Key pieces include Australia's earliest provenanced wedding dress worn by Ann Marsden for her marriage to the Reverend Thomas Hassall in 1822 and a rare tail coat worn by farmer Henry Paterson for his marriage to Elizabeth Fyfe in 1877. The tangled alliances of colonial families are explored through Mary Cameron Murray's satin and lace wedding dress worn for her marriage to politician Sir Henry Parkes son Varney in 1883 and the bridesmaid dress worn by her sister Isabella. The introduction of new materials feature in a cream rayon satin wedding dress made by David Jones and worn by Joan Edwards in 1939 and Diana Fisher's nylon tulle and lace dress from 1959. The impact of feminism and the oral contraceptive pill on marriage and wedding style in the 1960s and 1970s is reflected in the wedding suit of Alexandra Joel and mini dress of Irene Combe. The work of significant Australian designers is reflected in the opulent beading and embroidery on Jennifer Karpin's wedding dress designed and made by Lawrence Shiels in 1989 and Claudia Chan Shaw's 'My Fair Lady' inspired machine knitted, appliquéd and beaded dress by Vivian Chan Shaw.