A wedding gown is usually worn once in the lifetime of a Jewish woman and passed down from generation to generation. In this work, the dress is an
ultra-orthodox symbol, blurring boundaries and assimilating elements from
the world of the man and the woman in this community.
The garment is a boundary between the wearer and the environment. It is a wall, sometimes fortified, and even more so in the ultra-orthodox world where clothes also serve to hide the body.
The garment also indicates the individual’s group and the minority group’s distinctiveness within the surroundings.
The ultra-orthodox garment not only separates but also functions as a personal/group conscience that helps the individual follow the path he has chosen and not stray into actions that are unsuitable to a religious life, according to his understanding.
The white gown that symbolizes purity and the sanctity of marriage is stained with the signs of life in the areas involved with daily life, such as the hands and feet, while in the area around the head - the spiritual world - the white is dazzling.
The use of the symbolism of white and black unites life and death, sorrow and joy, the spiritual and the physical, the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem.
This wedding gown is made of white silk taffeta, and has paper-like qualities.
It was dyed in jasmine tea leaves, which made it softer and more antique-looking. Black ink dye reinstated the papery quality in the dyed sections. The dye, which is not uniform, gives the sense of something old, reused, inter-generational.
The choice of black ink emphasizes the importance of the written Torah, of the letter and of print in Judaism.
The silhouette is influenced by fashion in Europe at the end of the 18th century: a silhouette that is fitted over the hips and is pleated in the back.
The sections of the dress are patterned on the Jewish kittel, used for both men and women. The kittel is a white robe worn at ceremonies or events symbolizing a beginning and an end, like death and the marriage ceremony. The two sections surrounding the chest and the hips are drawn from the kittel worn by men, and the square sections at the waist are drawn from the Tallit Katan (a small tallit, or prayer shawl, worn throughout the day by orthodox Jewish men). The sleeves are dipped in black, like the stained sleeves of a printer. The black ribbons are a combination of the leather straps of the Tefillin (phylacteries) and the Tallit. The hooks and rings are made of silver as this is a modest material, not shiny or glittery, befitting a Jewish wedding. The hooks were especially prepared for the dress and they are larger than the hooks usually found in dresses. The rings are bound with leather straps, resembling Tefillin. The collar is in the style of the eighteenth century and the antique button was taken from a quilt cover bought at a flea market. On the calves there is a piece of fabric designed to hold the stockings to the calf of the leg. The use of rubber bra straps in this design offers another reminder of the binding of the Tefillin. The legs then become an essential part of the garment. Most of the dress was handsewn in an antique style, and even widened in some of the narrower spots, to symbolize the passing of the garment from generation to generation.