Written by: Kaitlyn Munro
This darling wedding ensemble was worn by Louise Whitney Whitehurst at her wedding to Walter Leon Stafford in Norfolk, Virginia May 30, 1928. With a matching cloche and art deco style purse. Louise must have been quite a charming bride on her special day.
A very practical dress like this was most likely used in the bride’s regular wardrobe after the wedding. The lovely shade of rose popular in the 20’s lends itself to daily or special occasion wear. The damage to the shoulders of the silk georgette under dress and holes at the shoulders of the lace layer suggests frequent use. Another sign that this dress was worn after the wedding is an area of leftover stitching on the underdress that shows how the pleated layer was moved down to a longer length.
Since the dress is going to be displayed in a museum exhibit on a mannequin, the shoulder damage needed to be addressed and repaired so it would once again be strong enough to support the dress. To accomplish this, a supportive under bodice was created based on a pattern made using measurements of the bodice. This under bodice was then attached to under dress and the damage fragments at the shoulder were stitched down to prevent any further damage.
The cloche arrived at the studio in a flat and crushed state and was brought back to life using a conservation rehydration technique that involved a humidification chamber. The process was closely monitored as the cloche was reshaped.
The art deco style couched cord purse was in beautiful condition on the front but the plain silk back had a significant amount of damage. Conservation netting was sewn down to keep the loose threads in place and protect it form any future damage.
It is always so rewarding to see pieces like these come to life again. We can see why Louise chose this outfit to wear on her wedding day!