Saturday, September 8, 2012

What's in a Label 3: Queen Victoria's 1840 Wedding Shoes

While much has been written on Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and her 1840 wedding dress as a statement of politics and power (rather than "purity"), not surprisingly, the author has decided to examine her wedding shoes.  Just as her wedding gown was extensively adorned with fine British-made Honiton lace (in an effort to support the decimated lace industry, which proved a successful tactic for a time), so, too, were her shoes a decidedly British product.
Created by Cundry & Sons, they are a highlight of the newly refurbished Northampton Museum. Made of white satin, they feature ribbon ties which wrapped at the ankle to hold them in place. The affixed label is very traditional, as is the form and the use of many fonts. The label is a proud "brand" of the company, listing (cramming, actually) as many royal clientele as possible into the oval. Note that they first list themselves as "bootmakers." This remained the highest echelon of cordwainer, even in a prolonged era of important women's shoemaking--of which Queen Victoria's represent the epitome for any designer. We need only to look at last year's royal wedding, the 2012 Olympics or even the wardrobe of American First Lady, Michelle Obama, to understand the significance of nationality in designer selection. 

In Boyle's Fashionable Court and Country Guide, the boot and shoemakers are still listed in the 1857 directory:

CUNDRY and SON No 1 Soho square By Appointment in Ordinary to the Queen the Prince of Wales HRH the Duchess of Kent and the Royal Family Every variety of Ladies and Children's Boots and Shoes in the first style of materials and workmanship 

For one of the best accounts this author has read regarding the symbolism of Queen Victoria's dress and the context of what came before and after, see

Should you want to learn how to make Honiton Lace, Mrs. Daphne Lee offers classes at the Allhallows Museum

Kimberly Alexander, Ph.D.

Queen Victoria in her wedding gown, 1842. Franz Xavier Winterhalter (1805-1873)
All images of Queen Victoria's wedding shoes, courtesy Borough of Northampton Museum


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