DENTON, Texas (AP) — Wedding dresses from the 19th century to the present day are featured in a new exhibit showcasing the changing styles of American brides, from a 1900s dress with a lace choker collar to a beaded flapper dress from the 1920s to a 1980s satin confection with an explosion of organdy ruffles.
More than 40 wedding gowns spanning from 1844 to last year are featured in the free exhibit that opened over the weekend in the North Texas city of Denton. Most of the dresses are from the University of North Texas' Texas Fashion Collection — which includes more than 20,000 historic clothing items, while others were loaned from private collections.
"It's going to bring up a lot of memories and sentiment," said exhibit organizer Myra Walker, director of the Texas Fashion Collection.
"American Brides: Inspiration and Ingenuity" runs through Oct. 24 at the Greater Denton Arts Council's Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts.
Walker said the exhibit not only shows the changing styles over the decades, but also highlights the elements that keep re-emerging. A Victor Costa-designed dress from 1993 for a wedding in Scotland with embroidered thistles features style elements from the late 1800s including a dust ruffle beneath the dress, covered buttons on the sleeves and a long train.
"It's got a 19th century flavor but it's really a 1990s dress," she said.
A gown from 1982 with billowing sleeves inspired by the dress Princess Diana wore the year earlier when she married Prince Charles stands beside a Gibson Girl-inspired gown from 1894 with similarly voluminous sleeves. Walker said American style began to come into its own beginning in the 1890s with illustrator Charles Dana Gibson's portrayal of American beauty.
"The show is not really about the white wedding dress, it's really about the essence of American style," said Walker, adding, "It is fashion history, social history, the birth of modern fashion and the birth of the American woman and the American woman becoming a fashion icon."