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Two-piece wedding dress, bodice and skirt

Neapolitan production

1876-78 ca.
Ochre, powder blue and brown striped liserè taffeta; powder blue taffeta; machine-made lace
Antique Textiles 5810 and 5811

This wedding dress was worn by Gaetana D'Ambrosio from Modugno, Bari, on the occasion of her marriage to Michele Bruno, an engineer from Potenza. The choice to use pastel colours for a wedding dress, instead of white, was not unusual. The fashion of going to the altar dressed in white was not common until the beginning of the 19th century, and although it became progressively more popular in the following decades - particularly from the 1850s onwards - it did not immediately become the norm. As a consequence, opting for pastel shades, or in some cases even bright or dark colours, was still a relatively common practice. Wearing a white dress, as well as a white veil, was even considered inappropriate for brides over 25.

The bodice, in silk fabric with ochre, powder blue and brown stripes and with small liseré motifs - i.e. created by an extra set of warp yarns over the filling yarn - descends to the hips enveloping the body, and continues at the back to form a draped train, which is gathered at the bottom with a large bow and finished with machine-made lace. The skirt is made of powder blue silk taffeta, gathered at the front, with a train adorned with machine-made lace and ruffled, pleated flounces. Both the volume and the decorative elements are concentrated in the back of the skirt, as established by the fashion of the time, which emphasised the back of the female figure, both with regard to the hairstyle and the dress, as its maximum splendour could be best appreciated when seen from behind. For the ceremony, the dress was completed by a lace veil that has been lost. This dress was produced in Naples, the city where Gaetana D'Ambrosio apparently acquired her entire wardrobe, and was worn by the bride for the religious ceremony. For the civil ceremony, which used to take place a few days before the religious one, and for which the trend was to wear a morning dress, it seems that the bride opted for a burgundy satin dress.


Donated by Nella De Fabritiis, Firenze.


La Galleria del Costume/5, Firenze, 1993, pp 56-57

Text by
Camilla Colombo; Vanessa Gavioli
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