Ilford HP5 400

West End in three rolls of film

I first moved to West End as a student in 1995. My friends and I rented a six bedroom house for $300 a week, so $50 each - booya! We had so much fun being poor students, living on vegies and rice, scoffing leftovers our housemate brought back from Caravanserai and sitting on the roof to watch the fireworks.

What made me fall in love with West End instantly though was the way it reminded me of my home town, Mullumbimby, NSW, with its shops lining the main street, its eclectic mix of people and most of all its sense of community and independent newspaper.

Almost twenty years later and I'm no longer living in West End as, like many families, I've had to migrate to suburbia in order to live the great Australian dream. A suburb once known for its cheap accommodation and mix of ethnic minorities has become increasingly popular for its cafe culture and proximity to the CBD. With this of course has also brought wealthier home owners and shiny new businesses.

Despite West End's continued gentrification, it still remains true to its roots and the Kurilpa Derby is a perfect example of this. The role of the Derby is to close off half the main straight to vehicles and set it up as a race track for any non-motorised form of transport with wheels. Just to make sure you got that, I said ANY non-motorised form of transport with wheels, including but not limited to mattresses, wheelie bins, wheel barrows, bathtubs etc. As long as it has one or more wheels, it's allowed.

A high point of the event is the famous Squid Race. This is where teams of three have to run into George's Seafood, a West End institution and one of the few businesses that still exists and and which was born before my time, collect a whole calamari and relay it down and back up the street only using their mouths to hold on to it. And, true to West End form, the participants are wearing colourful and diverse attire, because it is, after all, West End.

 

Vintage Bridal Study #3 1980's - 2012

It would be remiss of me to begin this final section of my study without giving a nod to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981. What a dress to symbolise the arrival of the 80's! Worth 25,000 pounds in today's money, it had all the lavish excess that we remember the period for. 10,000 pearls were set amongst the silk and taffeta dress with oversized puffy sleeves, it was completed with a  25 foot train. So abundant was it that looking through the photos of their day there is more dress than bride. Diana's bridal gown epitomised the fairy tale wedding that a little girl dreams of and was mirrored in bridal fashion for the decade to follow. Even though I look on it now and deem it to be excessive, I recall how fascinated I was with the royal wedding as a little girl and how much I loved the dress which shouted 'I'm a princess'.

The dress below was worn by it's bride, Michelle, in 1995 and made by local Brisbane designer Michael Klease as an entry for the RAQ Fashion Awards. After seeing it on the runway she decided that this was the dress for her and insisted on having the original version rather than a copy. Needless to say, it is the layers and layers of pink tulle contrasted with a delicate bodice which gives this dress its own special character.

Thank you to Can You Keep A Secret for the loan of the men's suit worn by Nate.

Moving on to the current era, bridal fashion has become more diverse than ever before as society has flowed on from the individualism which began all the way back in the 60's. By now, brides and designers have almost a century to look back to and draw inspiration from. Rather than merely a glamorous representation of the era from which it came, bridal fashion has evolved more and more into a class of its own. Now, after the excess of the 80's and materialistic boom of the naughties, 'Vintage' is in. Whether it is because it reminds us of a time when things were slower and more handcrafted, or because we feel a connection with the feel and events of a particular era, history, consumerism and a globalised economy have given the modern bride more choice than ever before.

Thank you to Preloved Bridal and Karen Willis Holmes for the loan of the dresses and headwear featured below. 

Below are some cheeky pictures I took of the models while they were 'adjusting' themselves. I love the candidness of them. They all did such a great job on the day of the shoot, thank you Lara, Emma and Heloise.

Thanks also goes to  Magnolia Rouge, Chic Vintage Brides and The Vintage and Handmade Bride  for featuring this series.

 

Dress and accessory providers

 Can You Keep A Secret - Groomswear

Michael Klease - Michelle Dress

Preloved Bridal - Bella Donna Dress

Karen Willis Holmes - 'Millie' Dress
 

Hair and Make-up -  Nicola Gangemi

Models  - Lara Crompton, Emma Dorwood, Heloise Ruinard and Nate Swindale

 Flowers - Emma Blak

Sylist - Ateca Roberte

Second Shooter - Jane Osborne

Assistant - Mike Wallace

 

Vintage Bridal Study #2 1950's - 1970's

Something that has become increasingly apparent to me during this study is the effect societal change on fashion during the last century. Commencing around the same time as the electric light and ending with the dot-com boom, change was significant and rapid. Fashion frequently contradicted itself from decade to decade as new styles were created and new boundaries crossed. One minute waists are in, the next it was mini-skirts. The wedding dress naturally always signified the sentiments of each period.

Come the end of WWII, the Western world charged into the safety of the 1950’s era of the family. Men went back to work, women went back to the home and we had the baby boom as people settled into domestic bliss. The 1950’s were a period of affluence, of home appliances and perfectly manicured lawns.  After the frugalness required during the war, this was the era that brought us materialism and the television. And lace! French and Belgium lace were immensely popular signifying wealth and luxury after manufacturing companies had paused during the war. Dior's 'New Look', which arrived in 1947 as a contrast to the practical clothing women had worn whilst working,  typified the 50's feel of feminine curves and shapes. The triangle shaped torso, pointed breast (ever wondered where that unnatural shape came from?) and sweeping skirts were hallmark features of the bridal gown. 

It was the dress below which started this study off for me when I found it in a local thrift shop. It mimics lace via polyester, which was the 1950's contribution to artificial fabrics. I don't know much about this dress but I suspect it is fashioned after Grace Kelly's 1956 wedding dress. Even into 1950's Australia, fabric was still relatively scarce and dresses were still frequently borrowed, so despite the economical choice of fabric it still tells me the original owner had a little more money than most. Thank you to Karen Willis Holmes for loaning me the beautiful headpiece. 

A Little Bit of Trivia

 The phrase ‘And something Blue’ is thought to originally stem from ancient times as blue was a symbol of faithfulness, purity and loyalty. If a bride had some blue on her wedding day it was believed her husband would be faithful to her.

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By the end of the 1950’s change was in the air again.  Britain and America had experienced a period of boom and with it had come materialism and indulgence. As the 1960’s rolled around people began to challenge the ideals of post-war conservatism. In America John F. Kennedy was elected to office in 1961 and in Britain it was the Mod movement that began to take place.

The 1960’s brought us Jackie Kennedy’s distinctive style. Although she was a bride of the 50’s complete with 50 yards of ivory taffeta, it was her sleeveless sheath with a bare neckline and opera length gloves worn at White House dinners, which caused a sensation. Prior to this sleeveless garments were considered too informal. She made famous the Pill Box hat, which became her signature head wear for many years.

Over in London the backlash to post-war conservatism and strict discipline appeared in what became known as the Mod movement. Evolving via the ‘fashion worshipping working class teen’, it produced Twiggy. With her classic mod eyes and slender frame, she was the antithesis of curvature. The simplicity of A-line gowns contrasted to the tightly girdled hourglass shape and extravagant trimmings of the 50’s. By 1965, even the mini-skirt had become popular enough to be considered acceptable for bridal wear.

Both the dresses below were loaned to me from Preloved Bridal. They were given to the owner, Glynis, by the husband of its original owner after she'd passed away. It had been made by a local woman who had individually stitched the pin tucked details around the bodice and sleeves by hand. 

 

The 1970’s brought the end to the Vietnam War along with conscription, but only after years of ongoing protest within the US and Australia as society had started to question traditional values during the 60’s. It was during the 60’s and 70’s that women were experiencing the second wave of the feminist movement, increasing their ground since having achieved the right to vote in the first part of the century. No longer did people conform to a set of ideas handed down from above, but instead embraced the individual. Author Tom Wolf called the 1970s the Me Decade, here we are starting to see greater additions to diversity of culture and ideas that would shape the remainder of the century.

Bridal styling was also individualistic as bridal magazines started to gain popularity. Women had let go of the conservatism of the first half of the century and had begun to push the boundaries of what was suitable and fashionable for a wedding. Although ‘Vintage’ is popular now, it was during the 70’s that the concept of reinterpreting earlier styles first started to become popular. Western society also looked beyond its borders for fashion influences drawing from ethnic cultures. In the 70’s bridal wear could consist of anything from a medieval inspired dress to the white Yves Saint Laurent suit worn by Bianca Jagger in 1971. Over all though, the 70’s wedding dress was fond of  lace, loose fitting fabrics or polyester. Designs were fluid, drape-able and sexy.    

Thank you to Can You Keep A Secret and The Forever Dress for the loan of these 70's dresses and also to Maudie's Millinery for the fabulous pill box hat. 

 

Dress and accessory providers

Maudie's Millinery 

Can You Keep A Secret

Karen Willis Holmes

The Forever Dress

Preloved Bridal

Hair and Make-up -  Nicola Gangemi

Models  - Lara Crompton, Emma Dorwood and Heloise Ruinard

 Flowers - Emma Blak

Sylist - Ateca Roberte

Second Shooter - Jane Osborne

Assistant - Mike Wallace