This wedding dress was worn by twenty-six-year-old Charlotte Alice Harvey at her marriage to twenty-seven-year-old Alfred Heywood Shaw in Melbourne on 17 May 1885. An exceptional example of Victorian-era elegance, the dress features a fashionable form-fitting jacket bodice with contrasting stand-up collar, jabot and cuffs of machine-made blond lace, worn over a bustle skirt and circular train.
This dress foregrounds many characteristics of wedding dresses today: white, cream and ivory silk satins remain ever-popular, as do corseted bodices and bell-shaped skirts. However, white as a bridal colour only became popular amongst the middle classes after Queen Victoria’s marriage to her cousin Prince Albert in 1840. In a display of patriotism and wealth, Victoria wore a white Spitalfields silk satin and Honiton lace off-the-shoulder gown, trimmed with orange blossoms.
Wedding dress: Australian, unknown, 1885.