Brides' dresses revisited

By Hannah Norton

It initially started off as an idea for an historical fashion and dresses exhibition.

But when Kiwi North exhibitions co-ordinator Anne Juddery wrote a column in the Northern Advocate featuring a 1938 wedding dress from Whangarei appealing for other historical pieces, she was inundated by locals with old wedding dresses.

So it was born: Tying the Knot - an exhibition of a century of locally sourced wedding dresses from the 1870s to the 1970s.

And the biggest challenge wasn't finding the dresses, but finding mannequins for those dresses, Mrs Juddery said.

"We got mannequins, but they are healthy mannequins - the dresses and the women back then were so tiny."

So tiny, in fact, that Kiwi North staff had to take to the shoulders of some mannequins with a saw.

"Then we propped them back up with shoulder pads," she said.

The first dress that she wrote about which sparked the entire collection was a 1938 dress worn by Miss Ethel May Goodlew at her marriage to Alan Rogers at St Matthews Church in Hikurangi, donated to Kiwi North by Ethel May's daughter Mrs Sharon Mooney. The collection also now includes Mrs Mooney's grandmother's dress from 1904.

The preparation of the exhibition, which has included extensive research and careful collection of the dresses has taken Mrs Juddery two or three months to complete among her regular work duties.

"They are quite fragile - it took two people two days to steam press. They are just so delicate," she said. "And organisation was the huge thing - I thought, 'I cannot mix them up'."

Not only are there dresses, but jewellery as well - such as a pair of 1941 wedding rings that "are extremely thin as it was during the war".

Kiwi North director Stewart Bowden said people should definitely come along and have a look.

"I really think it's just super to say the least, and from start to finish it's been Anne - she's put hours and hours into it."

Exhibition opening hours are 10am to 4pm daily and entry included in Kiwi North admission. Whangarei Museum at Kiwi North, Gate 1, 500 SH14, Maunu, Whangarei Museum & Heritage Park.

- Northern Advocate

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