Wedding gowns tell family stories

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 13/08/2014
Deborah Gill-Smith
IN THE FAMILY: Deborah Gill-Smith with her family heirloom wedding dress.
wedding dress
FAMILY HEIRLOOM: Lynne Taylor wears a family dress from 1910 at her 1976 wedding.

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A century of wedding dresses will offer a glimpse into the past at a charity fashion show on Friday.

Runway Brides: A Fashion Show of Dresses Through the Decades is a fundraising event showcasing wedding and bridesmaid dresses.

Some have been donated by vintage dress collector Deborah Gill-Smith whose family dresses have been preserved.

Gill-Smith said her family prized the dresses and kept them in storage for many years. One dress dates back to 1910 and was worn by her great aunt Margaretta Lochhead, back when it was customary to wear a corset.

A dress from 1923 belonged to Gill-Smith's grandmother Maud Gill.

The runway show will feature more than 60 dresses. At one wedding, the wedding photos were taken without any film in the camera and the whole day had to be re-enacted the day after the wedding.

Gill-Smith's aunt, Natalie McArthur, has loaned a blue nightdress for the runway show.

The story goes, McArthur spotted the nightdress in a window of a shop in Ashburton the day before her wedding. She thought the lingerie looked very similar to her bridesmaids' dresses. Fearing her guests would see the display nightdress and assume her friends were wearing nightdresses at the wedding, she purchased the nightdress on the condition the shopkeeper would not replace it with another until after her wedding day.

While the actual bridesmaids' dresses have been lost to time, the nightdress has been preserved and will be in the show.

Alongside the historic dresses, gowns from Robyn Cliffe will be included in the show.

The money raised will go to a women's training programme in Laos and Hagar International, an organisation aimed at stopping rights abuses against women.

For tickets to the bridal show, phone 03 343 4935 or see 1-night.co.nz/runwaybrides. Friday August 15, 7.30pm.

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