Gorgeous is the only appropriate word to describe the incredible exhibition catalog that goes with the exhibition Wedded Perfection.
Written by Cynthia Amneus, curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles at the Cincinnati Art Museum, 270 page volume features a full page color image of each gown in the exhibition, with many detail shots that get you closer to the gowns than you ever could as a museum visitor. Where available, a portrait of the bride in her gown is also included.
The first 95 pages of the book provide the reader with an overview of the history of the American wedding. It begins with Amneus’s essay “Wedded Perfection: The Evolution and Aesthetics of the Wedding Gown in Western Culture.” Her well-researched essay explores the wedding from antiquity to the present, including Queen Victoria’s bold decision to where a white gown in 1840 instead of the typical royal trappings of richly colored velvets and furs. The essay ends with a discussion about same-sex marriage, with a photo of Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi at their August 2008 wedding.
Sara Long Butler’s essay “Brides on a Budget: 1880-1910” features vintage photographs and documents exploring how women of the day balanced the wedding of their dreams with their limited pocketbooks. The first part of the catalog concludes with Katherine Jellison’s essay “The Commercialization of Weddings in the Twentieth Century,” exploring how the wedding business has evolved into a multimillion dollar industry.
The second part of the catalog features in-depth histories on each gown featured in the exhibition. The exquisite photography and individual stories about the brides make this volume stand alone as an interesting read, regardless of whether you have actually seen the exhibition. For those fortunate enough to have viewed Wedded Perfection in person, it is a lovely keepsake of your museum visit.
Wedded Perfection was originally displayed at and organized for travel by the Cincinnati Art Museum. Many of the gowns included in the exhibit are from the museum’s own permanent collection. The Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute is the only other venue scheduled to display this amazing exhibition. It will be on view through September 18, 2011.
The author purchased this book when she visited the exhibition Wedded Perfection at the Munson Williams Proctor Institute in Utica, NY. She was not compensated in any way for this review. The cost of the book at the Munson Williams Proctor Institute’s museum shop was $35.