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Wedding dress

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (made)

  • Date:

    1933 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hartnell, Norman, born 1901 - died 1979 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk satin with pearl and glass beads and satin appliqué, tulle with metal wire, trimmed with wax

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Margaret, Duchess of Argyll

  • Museum number:

    T.836-1974, T.306-1978

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Wedding dress outfit consisting of an embroidered silk satin dress and tulle veil.
[Wedding dress] Dress consisting of a bias cut white silk satin sheath studded with pearl-embroidered transparent stars and insertions with soft silk tulle borders to the wide hem-length hanging sleeves, and an 18-foot train scattered with satin appliqué and beaded stars. Side placket fastening with hooks and eyes.
[Wedding veil] Tulle veil with a circlet wreath of metal wire strung with pearl beads and trimmed with wax orange-blossom.

Place of Origin

London, England (made)


1933 (made)


Hartnell, Norman, born 1901 - died 1979 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk satin with pearl and glass beads and satin appliqué, tulle with metal wire, trimmed with wax


[Wedding dress] Circumference: 65.4 cm waist, Circumference: 81 cm bust, Width: 40 cm centre back, Length: 32 cm neck to waist, Length: 127 cm under sleeve, including tulle, Length: 63 cm under sleeve, excluding tulle, Length: 71 cm outer sleeve, including tulle, Length: 41 cm outer sleeve, excluding tulle, Width: 33 cm shoulder to shoulder, Circumference: 82 cm lower hips, Length: 548.6 cm train

Object history note

Worn by Margaret Whigham, later the Duchess of Argyll, for her marriage to Mr Charles Sweeny in the Brompton Oratory, 21 February 1933. The dress took a team of 30 seamstresses six weeks to make, and the bride thought it shockingly expensive at £52. The veil (T.306-1978) was donated a few years later, in 1978, and is catalogued with the dress (T.836-1974).

Margaret Whigham was the only child of Helen Mann Hannay and George Hay Whigham, a Scottish millionaire who was chairman of the Celanese Corporation of England, North America, and Canada. After being educated privately in New York City, where she moved one week after her birth and lived until the age of 14, and making her debut in London in 1930, she announced her engagement to Charles Guy Fulke Greville, 7th Earl of Warwick. This wedding did not take place as she had fallen for Charles Sweeny, an American amateur golfer, and decided she was not sufficiently in love with Lord Warwick. Margaret and Charles Sweeny divorced in 1947, and in 1951, she became the notorious Duchess of Argyll, third wife of the 11th Duke of Argyll.

Descriptive line

Wedding dress outfit consisting of an embroidered silk satin dress and tulle veil, designed by Norman Hartnell, London, 1933

Exhibition History

Unveiled: 200 years of wedding glamour from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington 17/12/2011-22/04/2012)
The White Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashions (Bendigo Art Gallery 01/08/2011-06/11/2011)

Labels and date

Society wedding dress
Norman Hartnell (1901-79)

British Pathe filmed society beauty Margaret Whigham and her husband Charles Sweeny as they emerged from London's Brompton Oratory. The film shows crowds of women jostling with photographers to catch a glimpse of the bride and her magnificent Hartnell wedding gown. Her dress, which incorporates a nine-foot train, is an early example of a wedding dress designed for the day.

Silk satin and tulle, embroidered with glass beads
Given and worn by Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, for her first marriage to Charles Sweeny, 21 February 1933
V&A: T.836-1974 [2011]


Beads; Silk satin; Tulle


Embroidery; Beading


Fashion; Marriage; Women's clothes; Textiles; Embroidery

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection code


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