New bridal exhibit opens at KSU Museum

Lauren Carll

The Belle Époque Brides exhibition opens today in the Kent State University Museum.

The exhibit features wedding gowns worn by American women during the late 19th century. In France, this time was known as La Belle Époque, the “Beautiful Time.”

Jean Druesedow, museum director, said she admires the designs of the dresses during La Belle Époque.

“There’s something sort of fanciful about them,” Druesedow said. “The silks and beading are so elegant.”

Druesedow said the dresses, most of which were donated by locals, are displayed with pictures and facts about the women who wore them.

“I love having the pictures of the brides,” she said. “We can compare what the dresses looked like then to what they look like now.”

The exhibit displays a variety of gowns with high, full bustles, slim silhouettes, long trains and trumpet-shaped skirts.

Druesedow said very few women got married in white dresses because they couldn’t afford to. Instead, women married in darker dresses that stayed their best dresses for many years.

Druesedow said she hopes to see students and the general public visit the exhibit.

Alexandria Kakoules, a sophomore fashion design major and Fashion Museum Student Association vice president, said she plans to visit the exhibit tonight.

“The Fashion Museum Student Association is hosting a guided tour of the exhibit Thursday at 6 p.m.,” Kakoules said. “We hope to get a good turn out.”

Kakoules said she has wanted to be a designer since she was little, however, she does not see a future in bridal design.

“My mother has been in the bridal gown design business for many years,” she said. “Since I was around it my whole life, I decided I wanted something different.”

Hilary Dell, a sophomore double majoring in fashion design and finance, said that there are similarities and differences between today’s bridal designs and those from the late 19th century. Dell is also the Fashion Museum Student Association president.

“I think the detailing, like beading and lace, will stay popular in wedding dresses forever,” she said. “But now there are so many alternative weddings, and people are doing things so differently.”

Druesedow said she thinks today’s designers are still inspired by La Belle Époque.

“A lot of designers take inspiration from that time period because it is so romantic,” she said.

The Belle Époque Brides exhibition will be displayed until Jan. 4, 2009.

Contact fashion reporter Lauren Carll at [email protected].