“Most modern wedding dresses are pure costume. The cheapness of clothes and the facility of hiring have made them not so much a wardrobe investment as a chance for a once in a lifetime chance to dream.”
(Prudence Glynn, The Times, 1976*)
A gorgeous but enigmatic doll that turns up from time to time is an early 1970s Sindy sewn into a exquisite vintage bridal gown. These Sindys are normally Trendys and have been nicknamed the “Trendy Brides”. The story goes that some time in the mid 1970s these Sindys were given to brides who hired their dresses as a memento of their special day.
Britain has a reputation for its vibrant and innovative wedding fashions. Since the Second World War, hiring one's wedding dress has always been a perfectly acceptable option, borne as it was from the need to be practical. In addition, from the 1950s onwards, young fashion designers turned their backs on couture, and supported by the advent of a whole range of new man-made fibers and fabrics moved into the ready-to-wear market with well-designed wedding outfits available from a wide variety of outlets from specialist bridal boutiques to high street department stores.
Fashion in the 1970s was quite complicated and there were many different trends and ideas. The female “Me Generation” - the girl-baby boomers – with their desire for individualism, self-determination and consumerism were growing up and marrying. Interestingly whilst many of them were turning their backs on the attitudes of their parents leading to a rise in both living together and divorce and a general decline in traditional religious faith and social values, a church wedding with a dreamy white dress was still most girl's expectation. Consequently, romantic neo-historical fashions ranging from Medieval to Edwardian styles were all very popular.
We think that wedding dress hire again gained greater popularity in Britain in the mid 1970s. Perhaps the financial consequences of the global oil crisis, three-day week and rampant inflation, combined with the desire for a fantasy dress steered girls into hiring, where practically they could get more for their money and perhaps with their modern attitude they had less emotional attachment in buying and owning their own gown.
At some point in the mid 1970s some enterprising bridal hire firm bought a consignment of Trendy Girl Sindys. Whether they were direct from the factory or old shop stock we don't know, but we think in about 1975-76 as the Trendy Sindy doll was being phased out, Trendys dressed in replica wedding dresses were being given to new brides as a keepsake. Perhaps these dolls were used to promote the opening of a new bridal-hire shop or maybe they were one firm's answer to the increased competition? Frankly, we don't know. What we do know was that their short-lived history got forgotten and their glamorous past remained unknown to collectors until they were rediscovered a few years ago.
We would be very keen to know more about these dolls and where they came from, we'd also like to know more about wedding dress hire in the 1970s generally (did you hire your dress?), and in documenting and displaying any other Sindy Trendy bride dolls. Do get in touch if you can help us.
*Cited by Edwina Ehrman in “The Wedding Dress, 300 Years of Bridal fashions” 2011 V&A Publishing. If you are interested in wedding dresses do take a look at Edwina's beautiful book.
This Trendy is wearing a shimmering nylon satin ivory white dress decorated with a heavy cotton lace trim. Her gown consists of two parts. Underneath she wears a strapless satin sheath dress. Her overdress has an ornate princess line bodice with a satin stand-up collar and long tight sleeves which were very fashionable at this time. The skirt is split at the front with a train at the back inlaid with the heavy lace trim which is also used to decorate the skirt's hem.
She has a fine net drop veil which has been edged with a fine silky thread and it is sewn onto her hair to side of her head and finished with two white cotton guipure lace flowers. Her hair has been curled under into a long bob and she is wearing her original white cotton trendy knickers. She was not wearing shoes.
From the Trendy Sindy herself and the style of her outfit we believe she is an early Trendy bride.
This beautiful gown would look perfect in a Gainsborough films costume melodrama. Made of brilliant white nylon organza, it has a fitted bodice with a stand-up collar and three-quarter length sleeves. The full skirt is embellished with a dust ruffle and it has a slight train at the rear. The gown is decorated white cotton guipure flowers and white cotton embroidery leaves. Under the skirt there are two petticoats made of white nylon - a full wide petticoat over the top of a straight sheath petticoat. The sleeves are finished with a hand-stitched bell-shaped double ruffle and the back of the dress is decorated with a huge bow with long streamers.
She has a much more ornate bubble veil made up of three layers of unfinished stiff white netting with one layer reaching to the hem of her dress.This headdress is stitched to the hair on her centre parting and it is finished with two white guipure lace flowers. This Trendy has the longer hair which has been left to curl gently behind her shoulders. She is wearing a pair of plain white nylon knickers and she came a wearing pair of white kitten heel court shoes.
From the Trendy Sindy and her outfit we think this is a slightly later Trendy bride.
Shown below are some more wonderful photos of Sindy Trendy Brides which have been kindly donated to Our Sindy Museum by other collectors. There is a fine selection 1970s bridal fashions amongst these stunning Sindys.
If you have a bride that you would be pleased to show, do get in touch.