This wedding dress marks a further stage in the transition towards a more natural figure for women. ‘Modern’ fashion with its freer styles of clothing really begins here. The costume is a graceful confection, using cream tussore silk with lace and chiffon in the same colour. It is rich in embellishment but all the parts work together. The silk and lace collar is wired to stand out like a truncated Medici collar and matches cuffs in the same fabrics that do up tight at the wrist with hook and eyes. There is also a floating panel below the lower ruffle on the tiered skirt, a less constricting evolution of the hobble skirt that had been briefly fashionable from 1910. These elements recall the body-hugging rigidity of Edwardian styles but there is softness about this dress that points the way ahead.

Janet Stewart wore this dress when she married James Wood at ‘Dalkeith’ in Port Chalmers in April 1916. ‘Dalkeith’ was the old family home of the Thomsons, a pioneer Port family. Janet’s mother (also Janet, née Thomson) was married there in 1878. She and her husband subsequently inherited the property and the 23-year-old bride was one of the youngest of the seven children raised on the property. After their wedding Janet and James Wood lived in Cromwell, Stoney Creek, Stirling and finally Balclutha. Janet died there from leukaemia in 1950. Her wedding dress provides a link to the original Fabulous Frocks exhibition, which featured Janet’s mother’s wedding dress as well as one of her grandmother’s dresses. The present exhibition also features the wedding dress of Janet’s daughter, another Janet who became Mrs Campbell in 1943. Four generations of the family’s maternal line have thus appeared in the two exhibitions.
Production Date
Circa 1916
1420x480x330mm (on mannequin)