On a sunny Saturday afternoon in May, I accompanied my boyfriend’s mum to The Cavalcade of History and Fashion’s latest presentation – “Bustles to Bias: 1880s to 1940s‘’.
Established more than 50 years ago and based in Sydney’s lower north shore, The Cavalcade of History and Fashion is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preserving and exhibiting women’s fashion and accessories. Its extensive collection consists of gowns and accessories donated by families across Australia and features items dating back to the late 1700s. A committed band of volunteers (including my boyfriend’s aunty) painstakingly document the personal stories behind every piece in the collection and bring the clothes to life at year-round parades and exhibits.
“Bustles to Bias” was all about bridal fashion from the 1880s to the 1940s. Volunteers brought items of exquisite bridal clothing around to our tables as we listened to an informative presentation about the dresses and the ladies who wore them.
– Brides used to wear the best dress they owned, whatever colour that happened to be!
– White dresses only gained popularity after Queen Victoria’s wedding.
– “Royal Icing” took its name from the refined sugar coating on Queen Victoria’s tiered wedding cake.
– Bouquets were a “must have” because their sweet smelling flowers masked the unpleasant body odour of wedding goers in an era when bathing was a rare occurrence.
After the presentation we were treated to a fabulous afternoon tea.
I really enjoyed Bustles to Bias because I love comparing fashions from different eras. The 18th and 19th centuries saw women confined to tight corsets and petticoats, mirroring their lack of freedom in society. But the 1920s saw the more rebellious flapper girls come into existence with their shorter hemlines and bare shoulders. Fast forward to now when we can wear whatever we like in Australia – short hemlines, maxi dresses, bare shoulders or capped sleeves.
If, like me, you are interested in history and fashion then I highly recommend attending one of Cavalcade’s upcoming events. It promises to be a delightful afternoon of history, fashion, sandwiches, cakes and tea. Details can be found here. And don’t forget, donations (money or clothing) are always welcome.