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Monday, December 19, 2011

Wedding dresses extended at Hillwood through January 15, 2012


Have you seen that dumb show on cable (thank goodness I cannot identify the station or the night) about women selecting wedding gowns?
In fancy bridal shops the women come and go, talking with mothers and close friends who tell the brides-to-be how ravishing they look in wedding apparel.
The 60-year-old with the wrinkly arms?
"Darling, sleeveless is perfect for you!"
Who in their right mind would spend time watching such a show?
Velma and I love it.
If you haven't been out to Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens to see Marjorie Merriweather Post's four wedding dresses, you have until January 15, 2012 to see them. The show has been extended to satisfy the crowds bombarding the mansion for this very special exhibition. (Through last month Hillwood's attendance exceeded all of 2010 admittances which had already set a record.)


Wedding Dress, 1905  Worn by Marjorie Merriweather Post for wedding to Edward Bennett Close, December 5, 1905  Hitchins& Balcom, New York  Silk satin, silk organza, open cut lace, rhinestones
Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973


The show includes not only Mrs. Post's four wedding dresses (none alike), but those of her three daughters, her mother, bridesmaids, mother of the bride, and Dina Merrill's dress she wore as a flower girl (piped in white fox?) in her sister's 1927 wedding.  Ms. Merrill (b. 1925) was the youngest of Mrs. Post's three daughters and the only one extant. Like mother, like daughters: Adelaide, the oldest, was married three times; Eleanor, the middle daughter, six times, and Dina Merrill, three times. It might take an airport hangar to show all of the wedding dresses which may explain why they are not all in the show. Nevertheless...) A 2.5 minute film of scenes from Adelaide's 1927 wedding is included.


Wedding Dress and Bridesmaid Dress, 1935
Worn by Marjorie Merriweather Post and bridesmaid dress worn by Dina Merrill for Post’s 1935 wedding to Joseph E. Davies, photographed in the pavilion at Hillwood. Photo by Ed Owen




Wedding Dress, 1946
Worn by Dina Merrill for her wedding to Stanley M. Rumbough, Jr., March 23, 1946
Saks Fifth Avenue, New York
Satin, tulle, pearls
Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens
Gift of Dina Hartley; photo by Ed Owen

The dresses are in superb condition. And accompanying them are hats, shoes, purses, jewelry. (Do not dare miss, as I almost did on first go-round, Dina Merrill's wedding bag with diamonds and pearls.) Without a doubt, Mrs. Post's most elegant dress was her first one.
The costumes are all quite complete and originate from Hillwood's collection of 175 gowns Mrs. Post (1887-1973) left to her estate.

The Adirondack at Hillwood, home of "Wedding Belles"/Patricia Leslie

The exhibition is in a small gallery, the Adirondack, a few steps from the mansion which is also included in the admission price. Hillwood is stunning with holiday decorations up and docents galore to happily answer questions.

Hillwood Estate/Patricia Leslie


If you should wonder why Hillwood is not open every Sunday, it's because the neighbors prohibit it via zoning, a docent told me. Likely, they abhor the traffic which reminds me...
Parking is available on-site, however, the Sunday I went, the only parking was in an employees lot, but, not to worry, friendly parking lot attendants will take care of you.
The $15 admission is well worth it, and do take advantage of the beautiful grounds. I didn't believe the website which advised planning a stay of three hours, but it is true. The cafĂ© offerings were magnificent and reasonably priced.  An attendant told me large brunch crowds come on Sundays (when open).
What: "Wedding Belles: Bridal Fashions From the Marjorie Merriweather Post Family 1874-1958"
When: Now through January 15, 2012, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and two Sundays, January 1 and January 15, 2012, 1 - 5 p.m.
Where: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW
"Suggested donation": $15 (adults), $12 (age 65 +), $10 (college students), $5 (6-18 years), no suggested donations for younger than 6 or members
Metro station: Van Ness-UDC and walk a short mile up a hill through a pretty neighborhood (or take a taxi). To shorten your walk or skip the taxi, ride the L1 or L2 bus and walk a half mile from Connecticut and Tilden.
For more information: 202-686-5807

A portrait of Marjorie Merriweather Post at Hillwood


Dina Merrill's bedroom at Hillwood/Patricia Leslie


      The Breakfast Room at Hillwood/Patricia Leslie

A portrait of Catherine the Great of Russia hangs on the stairway at the mansion.  Mrs Post's marriage to Joseph E. Davies took them to Russia in 1937 and 1938 when he was U.S. Ambassador, and there Mrs. Post developed a love of Russian decorative arts.  A docent said Hillwood owns the largest collection of Russian decorative arts in the U.S.
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