WHITE DRESS | Veniaminova Oksana

Marriage is a kind of greatest concerns for many women of different ages in my country.The popular belief endows the wedding gown with a mystical power to preserve happy and the only marriage forever. So the tradition prescribes keeping the gown in order to save the matrimony. Sometimes at any cost. After preserving their dresses carefully and superstitiously for decades, it gets very important to fit them again. Even if it is tight and awkward. In most cases women keep their wedding gowns as a memory and just sometimes in virtue of utility. My characters' childhood moments are featured by their moms' and grannies' wedding gowns . Those memories are full in glamour, magic and beauty . Also, there sound their grannies' words of keeping the dress and bridal veil at home without carrying them out, not showing to anybody and not letting anybody to have them. That is the precondition for strong and forever marriage. The tradition arrives as prejudice and superstitions. For example, the veil has a very special significance, serves as an amulet and is believed to be able to calm down an uneasily sleeping infant. Also it's not uncommon, that women continue keeping their gowns even after divorce . Replication of prior experience is a main feature of memory . So, my characters' young daughters already tend towards wearing their moms' wedding gowns during the ceremony . A white dress turns into a self - replicating pattern . Their grannies' message integrates into a women's collective memory . The articles of the wedding gown, being endowed with power and symbols, become fetish . while I come across with it, the modernity is starting to fall apart . Some women go on keeping their dresses due to some unconscious reasons they are not able to voice . The real or imaginary value of those things is so great but the event related to them is of such importance that sometimes it seems to me that the memory of it substitutes life itself . Everything can be dramatically different here and now . But women keep turning mentally and ritually to that important day by keeping and wearing those dresses for anniversaries .

Anna, aged 58, wearing her wedding gown at home, Dubrovno, Belarus. She has been keeping her dress for 36 years. "I cut the sleeves off to be used for my daughters' school dresses. I keep the dress as a memory."

Olga, aged 32, wearing her wedding gown at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping her wedding dress for 12 years. Olga: "I made up my mind not to give away my dress after the wedding. I feel like a princess while wearing it».

Antonina, aged 43, and her wedding dress, at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping her dress for 24 years, though she is divorced. Antonina: "I divorced with my husband after 6 years of marriage. I keep the dress just because it doesn`t hinder."

Liudmila, aged 42, wearing her wedding dress at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the gown for 20 years. Liudmila: "My grandmother also kept her wedding dress and when I was five, it was the first time I saw it. It was very touching, one of the most intense impression of my childhood."

Iryna, aged 33, wearing her wedding dress, in her apartment, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the gown for 11 years. Iryna: "Me and my husband have kept all the elements of our wedding, even the dried flowers. Everything has it's memory. The dress is dear to me as a part of my memories, and my daughter loves to play with it too."

Tatiana, aged 56, wearing her wedding dress at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping it for 30 years. Now she is living with her second husband but notwithstanding this, Tatiana still keeps the dress she wore at her first wedding. Tatiana: "I keep this dress as I am sentimental."

Natalia, aged 40, wearing her wedding gown in her apartment, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping it for 21 years. Now she is divorced. Natalia: "I keep the veil due to the tradition. The dress reminds me of my youth."

Natasha, aged 42, wearing her veil at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the veil for 21 years. Natasha: "I put the veil on for the anniversary of our marriage. I keep it because of the tradition."

Narine, aged 38, wearing her wedding dress, at her home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 14 years. Narine: «I feel sick in this dress now.»

Lena, aged 34, dressed in her wedding gown at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the gown for 10 years. Lena: "This dress is an important part of memory about the happy event. I believe it keeps the vigor of that day. I am happy the dress still fits me".

Galina, aged 60, wearing her wedding veil at home, Dubrovno, Belarus. She has been keeping her veil for 40 years. Galina: «My grandmother told me to keep my veil and the icon. So I am still keeping them. I believe in the power of the veil.»

Natasha, 35, performing the Snow Queen in the kindergarden she works for, Vitebsk, Belarus. She bought the wedding dress 5 years ago for this purpose.

Valentina, aged 38, wearing her wedding gown at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping it for 19 years. Valentina: "Five women were wearing this dress during their weddings and I didn`t want to give it away. I also have my veil. I used to cover the crib with the veil when her child was uneasily sleeping".

Lera, aged 15, wearing the dress at home, Smolevichi, Belarus. Lera: "My godmother passed it on to me about 5 years ago, after the death of her husband. I want to make the dress for my graduation party out of it."

Svetlana, aged 42, wearing her wedding dress, at her home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping her dress for 22 years. Svetlana: "Selling the dress has never been a question. I've always wanted to keep it."

Snezhana, aged 40, wearing her wedding veil at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the veil for 17 years. Snezhana: "I keep the veil because of the tradition."

Olga, aged 31, wearing her wedding dress, in her apartment, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 10 years. Olga: «I didn't give away or sell the dress because I was afraid someone will use it to bury a girl in it. Or a girl will wear it for her wedding ceremony, then she will get divorced and this will affect me somehow.»

Tatiana, aged 65, holding her dress at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 44 years. Tatiana: "I have kept the ring, the dress and my matrimony. The dress is the symbol of my youth."

Ilona, aged 35, wearing her dress at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 10 years. Ilona: "It's the most beautiful outfit that you get tailored for the most vibrant and responsible event in the life of a woman."

Irina, aged 39, wearing her dress at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 12 years. Irina: "I keep the dress as a memento. I will probably wear it for the anniversary of our marriage."

Olya, aged 37, wearing her wedding dress, in her apartment, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 16 years. Olya: «The dress is dear to me as a memory, a symbol, a nice memento.»

Irina, aged 47, holding her wedding dress at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 24 years. Irina "I believe that while I am keeping the dress everything will be fine. I fear that if something happens to the dress bad things will happen to me too. Also my daughter wants to wear my dress for her wedding."

Galina, aged 66, holding her wedding dress at home, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 33 years. Galina: "I wanted to turn it into a blouse but something in my heart stopped me. I would like the dress to be buried with me."

Natalya, aged 42, wearing her wedding dress, in her apartment, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 20 years. Natalya: "I made this wedding dress myself. To give this dress away is like a betrayal. The wedding gown is a fateful and magical thing. It is my amulet."

Vera, aged 35, wearing her wedding gown in her apartment, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping the dress for 14 years. Vera: "Probably I will pass on the dress to my daughter in whichever form: she can make a dress for a dancing performance or graduation ball out of it."

Valentina, aged 61, and her granddaughter Kira, aged 7, at their cottage house, Vitebsk, Belarus. They are holding the tailings of Valentina`s wedding gown: some fabric and a toy ice-cream made out of the dress. Valentina: "We made a lot of things out of my wedding dress but the veil is sacred for me and my husband. If you have the only one wedding gown, then you also have the only one line of your family life, and that is important".

Maria, aged 37, keeping her wedding dress in her apartment, Vitebsk, Belarus. She has been keeping it for 10 years. Maria: "The wedding gown is a very intimate thing like underwear. I put on the dress for our first anniversary. I now keep the gown as a memory."