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Object: Wedding dress

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Title Wedding dress
Production Gifford Family (dressmaker), 1946, New Zealand
Materials silk
Classification wedding dresses
Technique sewing
Dimensions Width Across Shoulders: 310mm (Width)
Centre Back: 2120mm (Length)
Waist Circumference: 600mm ()
Credit line Gift of the Thomas Family, 2011
Registration number GH017153

This wedding dress was made from Second World War Japanese parachute silk and was worn by bride Carol Thomas (nee Gifford) when she married Owen Thomas after he was discharged from the New Zealand Army in 1946.

Owen was part of J-Force and spent some months in Japan on his way back from Europe. He was involved in reconstruction type work near the Nagasaki bomb zone. He noted finding useful objects in a small diary, including parachutes. On Monday 15 April 1946, he wrote: 'went over to big installation to see if we could find any machinery parts. Got V belts and 15 parachutes to send to Carol'.

At this time fabric for new clothing (particularly silk) was still scarce. Parachute silk was highly sought after but rare, as nylon had replaced silk in 1942.

Using parachute silk was also a way for the bride to honour the war service of her husband-to-be, and may have been part of the tradition to wear 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue'.

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