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An 18th century dress for an 19th century bride!

In Sweden, three centuries ago, King Gustav III was inspired by the costumes of the European courts. He decided his courtiers would wear a “national court costume” like the ones in France and Italy and made the choice of black silk for the ladies and black cloth for the men. The thought of the courtiers dressed in similar fashion was partly for a practical reason but also an economical one. Prior to this the ladies, and the men for that matter, was competing wearing silk robes and hairdos that started to take on proportions of ridicule. This “Nationella Dräkten” or “Svenska Dräkten” solved the problem.

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After the King died in 1792 the use of the court costume went out of fashion but the beautiful dresses in heavy silk where still very valuable. Ladies of high social ranks had a tradition of presenting dresses of valuable fabrics to the clergy after it was no longer in use and it would be remade, often in to a chasuble or a stole. If the dress was of very high quality it might end up in the hands of the clergyman’s wife and she would then lend it or rent it to the families of the parish. The bridal crown was also owned by the church and this too was lent with the dress and the accessories to the young brides.

Foto-Laila-DuranThis guilded crown is from Nyköping and made by master goldsmith Henning Petri, 1657-1703. The crown is now in the posession of Hällstads parish and still used by local brides.

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So what we have here is something quite extraordinary. A small town girl in a court dress, a garment far above her own social status, worn with the accessories used on the countryside. Truly a Queen for a day! The paper flowers, glass beads and the bridal glows belong to the folk costume. Her bridegroom is dressed in his folk costume from Toarp, adding the fashionable detail of the high hat.  – More about these costumes in the coming book KRONBRUDEN.

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