Exhibit runs through November 28
SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury Historical Society and Research Center is featuring an exhibition of wedding fashions from the Victorian and Edwardian eras through the 20th century in an eight week exhibit which opens Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Center, 419 Sycamore Ave.
The exhibition, the first of its kind for this organization, will take the place of the premier annual fundraiser for the Historical Society.
In the face of Covid concerns, the Society is taking extra measures to ensure the health, safety and comfort of all visitors. This includes opening only on Thursdays and Saturdays, with open hours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days. Special appointments and arrangements can be made by e-mailing [email protected].
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Running through Nov. 28, the exhibit will feature wedding gowns from every season, both handmade and custom designed, designed especially for local brides. Many are from the collection of Judi Buncher, with other selections on loan from Debbie Alfano and Robin Blair, the curator of the exhibit.
One handsewn satin dress, worn by Miriam T. Allen in March, 1886 and again by her granddaughter Miriam Buchaca in March, 1951, has been presented as a gift to the Society by Ken Stockbridge, Miriam Allen’s great grandson.
The exhibit showcases the variety of styles that have intrigued and fascinated brides over three centuries and include an interest in earlier decades by brides of a different decade. For instance, a bride of the 1970s whose gown is on display in the exhibit, chose a Southern bell lace confection for her attire, featuring the romantic look of the Gone with the Wind era. Ms Bucher, when she and her husband Stuart renewed their wedding vows in 1982, handmade her own dress for that celebration and chose to design a satin flapper-style creation with a dropped waist.
The 1886 gown, worn once again in 1951, is the earliest in the collection on display and features an eyelet-laced bodice with lace at the neckline, and a unique bodice attached to the back of the skirt, but unattached in the front. It was updated for the 1951 wedding with the addition of a Spanish lace mantilla.
Ms. Blair’s grandmother’s gown is also on display. As a bride in April, 1908, Georgia Gotshall chose a dress made by the family seamstress who lived with the family for a week while she made or altered clothes seasonally. That gown is a formal Gibson Girl style with a wedding-band collar, applique rosettes in velvet and lace, and worn with long kid gloves and satin shoes.
The gowns reflect influences from World War I, World War II, the Jazz Age, and beyond.
“The styles progress through various eras, from the rigid bone-corseted bodices of the early dresses to the progressively relaxed fit of modern dresses, “ said Ms Blair. “The lines of fashion are often blurred; you will find historical references in the design, such as the Empire style, made famous by Josephine Bonaparte, the 18th-century Empress of France.”
The gowns are more statements of fashion, style and change, the curator pointed out. Guests to the exhibition will see how they represent hope, ceremony, and ritual.
“The display is a luminous and powerful look at these creations and the women who wore them,” said Bernadette Rogoff, Director of Collections, Monmouth County Historical Association. “The installation itself is creative, exciting, and engaging, while the research and labeling allow visitors a fascinating in-depth look at the past owners of many of the garments. The Historical Society should be commended for the excellence of this exhibition.”
Retired Red Bank Librarian Elizabeth McDermott pointed out “These wedding dresses have all been tastefully restored, each one unique with amazing details like beads and buttons and lace. The exhibit hall is transformed by lights and mirrors which creates a pristine space to view and appreciate the dresses and other wedding-related items such as photos and wedding party outfits. Brides, dress designers, wedding photographers, as well as historians will enjoy seeing these one-of-a-kind gowns and veils.”
Visitors are asked to kindly follow COVID-19 protocols. Contributions are appreciated. Venmo accepted. Shrewsbury Historical [email protected] ShrewsburyHistorical-Society