Exhibition of 19th and 20th Century Maltese Bridal Wear Launched At Inquisitor's Palace
Take a step into Malta’s history with this captivating exhibition which focuses on a number of bridal gowns from the 19th and 20th century
Five wedding dresses from the national textiles collection are being exhibited at the Inquisitor’s Palace – National Museum of Ethnography, in Birgu. The gowns date back to the 19th and 20th century and one of them, worn first in 1979, was donned for a second time in 2001 by the original bride’s daughter.
The earliest exhibit is a silk lamè handmade wedding dress from the first half of the 19th century. A black blouse and skirt bought in 1917, a 1952 satin wedding dess sewn by the bride’s mother and embroidered by the bride herself and a 1965 wedding dress complete with veil, created by a dressmaker, are also on display. The fifth gown is a 1979 creation, complete with a hooded cape, designed and sewn by the bride and her mother. This dress was worn again by the bride’s daughter on her own wedding day 22 years later.
The exhibition is further enhanced through two interviews – one with the son of the 1917 bride and another one with the bride whose dress was worn by herself and her daughter.
Wedding dress styles and fabrics varied considerably over the years, as attested by this exhibition. Telecommunications, the advent of photography, printing of fashion and needlecraft books, magazines and patterns, as well as the manufacture and production of various fabrics and haberdashery items, all left their mark. Besides fashion trends, other factors that influenced bridal preferences included the bride’s family’s socio-economic, religious and financial status, or the bride’s personal situation, such as being orphaned or widowed.
The exhibition, entitled The Maltese Bride: 19th – 20th century bridal wear in Malta, was inaugurated by Noel Zammit, Heritage Malta’s Chief Executive Officer, who was shown around by Kenneth Cassar, Senior Curator for Ethnography and Annamaria Gatt, Curator for Costumes and Textiles.
Mr Zammit remarked that the exhibits not only reveal a variety of fabrics, styles and needlecraft techniques but each wedding gown recounts a story. This is in perfect sync with Heritage Malta’s mission as a story-teller and its crucial role in preserving these stories for posterity.
The exhibition runs until July 2024. Its launch coincides with Birgufest, happening on the 13th and the 14th of October in Birgu. On Saturday 14th, as part of Birgufest, the Inquisitor’s Palace and Fort St Angelo will be offering extended opening hours and a combo ticket for both sites will be available at only €3. The ticket may only be bought at the door.