By Urey Wang
“If I had a flower for every time thought of you, I could walk through my garden forever,” Alfred Tennyson once said. Love is hard to define and find but it seems like everyone is still seeking for it. Love happens suddenly and unpredictably. Someone falls in love, then they get married. Wedding rituals and dresses are a dominant part of our cultural understanding of marriage. That is why I chose bridal dresses as my research topic. I want to figure out the connection and differences in bridal dresses across worldwide cultures.
I searched some scholarly sources includes books and academic journals, as well as primary sources from 1940s fashion designers and writers. According to Michelle Nordtorp-Madson historian, in her book Wedding Costume, the traditional wedding culture usually includes dresses, families, rituals, and other decorations. Especially in a Western wedding, the bride usually dresses in white or off-white, covered with a little piece of tulle, carrying flowers and guided by her father (Nordtorp-Madson, 2010). The large silhouette with pure white or off-white color was the most visible trait for a classic western bridal dress. However, Eastern wedding dresses have something special that differentiates them from Western bridal dresses. Usually, traditional Eastern manufacturers add embroidery, such as the phoenix – which represents happiness, wealth, safety and courage – and other interesting symbolic patterns. The buttons they utilized were usually frog buttons with the Chinese knot symbolize happiness and luck.
According to Richard Sennett in his book The Craftsman, the professional techniques that craftsmen keep and pass to the next generation are very precious and rare. The frog buttons are a kind of traditional techniques that Chinese craftsmen used to produce to symbolize Chinese culture. After I collected this information, I started to draw design sketches of my final garment. I combined the large silhouette of Western wedding dresses and the frog buttons of traditional Chinese bridal dresses because I personally like the cultural collision of classic designs in different cultures. Also, another drawing from my sketches is a combination of the large silhouette with a piece of embroidery in front of the dress. I chose the first drawing as my final garment because the frog buttons are simple but elegant and more classic. I would like to use pure white silk as the two sides of the back panel while I will tulle or organza as the connection between the two sides. The frog buttons as the closure will be functional for connecting the tulle with the silk part. I wanted to do a whole garment but I decided to focus on the bodice and drape the large silhouette for impact.
From my personal perspective, the wedding dress as a symbol of pure and immortal love really opens my imagination to limitless possibilities. The cultural collision around the world will bring innovative and creative energy to the fashion world.