137 Wedding Dresses

I do like a nice wedding dress. Actually, this whole blog began with a wedding dress. The wedding photographer asked for my daughter’s event to be included in a wedding blog, which meant the addition of some information from the wedding dress maker (me!), so I wrote my first ever blog post about the making of the dress. You can read it here.

Anyhow, six years later, I found myself at this event, held as a charity fundraiser at a hotel in Newcastle a few weeks ago.

1 invitation

Kevin Thornhill, who hosted the show, trained in Art & Design in Manchester but later worked in London before finally setting up a bridal shop in the North-East, at Shotton Colliery. During the London days, he worked with designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel on the wedding dress for Princess Diana for her wedding to Prince Charles on 29 July 1981. The Emanuels were not particularly well known at the time, but ‘that dress’ made their name. For the show, Kevin Thornhill made a reproduction of Diana’s dress complete with its full-length train made of silk, like the dress.

Princess Diana wedding dress

Another reproduction wedding dress was this simple, elegant grey one – a copy of the dress worn by Wallis Simpson for her wedding to Edward, Duke of Windsor on 3 June 1937, the original designed by Paris-based American designer Mainbocher.

Wallis Simpson

The majority of the dresses on show, however, were original – part of Kevin Thornhill’s collection. It was fascinating to see how sleeves, trains, head-dresses, veils and necklines have varied over the decades. This dress with its simple drape and plain veil was one of the earlier dated ones on display.


In the 1940s and in the immediate post-war period, fabric was rationed, so garments were very sparing in their use of material and dresses were sometimes made with parachute silk.


We saw 1970s dresses with elaborate shoulder gathers and long sleeves extending over the hands.


In contrast, this 1980s wedding dress was full in the veil, the skirt and the sleeves.


Below is one of the more modern dresses on show, complete with a lace top and sleeves and a large, decorative, detachable train.


This was an informative and interesting event – we saw 137 dresses in all – this is just to give you a flavour…

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This ‘Ribbons and Roses’ design was originally created as a fabric suitable for weddings. You can find it here.

Ribbons and Roses

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Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am an artist, designer and maker living in Ramsgate, UK

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