UNLOCKING THE PAST: Bridal fashion reflected way of life in Cessnock in the 1920s

SPECIAL DAY: Clive and Mona Slack (nee Hall) on their wedding day at Bellbird Church of England in January 1926. Picture: Parker Studios/Cessnock City Library Local Studies Collection

SPECIAL DAY: Clive and Mona Slack (nee Hall) on their wedding day at Bellbird Church of England in January 1926. Picture: Parker Studios/Cessnock City Library Local Studies Collection

With the State Government easing coronavirus restrictions for weddings, are you, or someone you know, now planning a special day?

There's a historical precedent for brides planning a wedding after a pandemic, and that was exactly 100 years ago.

In the 1920s Australia was emerging from the devastating social impact of the influenza pandemic and the political horrors of World War I.

The economic collapse of the Great Depression was still a long way off and for this reason the early 1920s was a time of public optimism.

Formerly restrictive social customs were dissolving, women's' lives were become less constrained and life generally felt more open and not ruled by iron-clad tradition.

The cultural repercussions of this opening up were felt at every level, including in fashion, right down to the design of bridal dresses which reflected a modern look.

Calf-length bridal dress appeared for the first time, mirroring the new skirt lengths now being worn. With these dresses higher hemlines, t-strap or Mary Jane shoes became popular as they could be shown off along with white stockings.

Cessnock locals were no slouches in the fashion stakes, as these beautiful wedding images of Mona Hall and Clive Slack show.

In January 1926 Mona and Clive married at the Bellbird Church of England.

Mona was an accomplished singer, well-known throughout the Hunter area, where she regularly performed during the 1920s.

Local photographic business, Parker Studios in Vincent Street, took these beautifully lit and composed images which wouldn't have looked out of place in a contemporary style magazine.

EXQUISITE: Mona was a beautiful bride. Picture: Parker Studios/Cessnock City Library Local Studies Collection

EXQUISITE: Mona was a beautiful bride. Picture: Parker Studios/Cessnock City Library Local Studies Collection

Mona looked exquisite. Her ornamental headpiece was the height of fashion; a lace mobcap, held in place with beading and pulled down low over her forehead in the popular style a cloche hat.

Mona's fine, romantic veil is delicate and dreamily draped.

Large wedding bouquets were all the rage with orchids, gardenias and lilies popular and trailing ivy completing the elegant look. Mona's flowers were right on trend!

After their wedding Mona and Clive lived at Wollombi, Bellbird and later at Toronto, having a long marriage of over 60 years.

Kimberly O'Sullivan is the Local Studies Librarian at Cessnock City Library. Email her on kimberly.osullivan@cessnock.nsw.gov.au.

You can find all of Kimberly's previous columns at cessnockadvertiser.com.au/news/unlocking-the-past.

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