This is by far the coolest wedding dress I’ve ever heard of, made in 1947 from a nylon parachute which saved the groom’s life during WWII. (Now in the Costume Collection of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian).
In 1944, an American B-29 pilot named Maj. Claude Hensinger was returning with his crew from a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan, when the plane’s engine caught fire. After using his parachute to safely jump from the doomed aircraft, the chute further helped him to survive by providing shelter until he was rescued. After returning home from war to Pennsylvania, he proposed to his girlfriend Ruth in 1947, and she used the life-saving parachute as material for her wedding dress. Modeled on a dress which appeared in Gone With The Wind, the skirt uses the original parachute strings, which Ruth pulled up in the front to create the train effect in the back.
That piece of chute fabric was the only thing between life and death for Claude, the only reason he was able to come home and marry Ruth. At a time when so many other young men did not return, this piece of material would have been worth more to the couple than all the finest silks and lace in the world. You couldn’t ask for a more fitting wedding dress fabric.
The remarkable dress is now in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Wedding photograph from South Whitehall Patch.
Elsewhere on the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things:
Chelsea, thanks for your awesome blog. I just want to update the link to the story of the Bergen-Belsen DP camp wedding gown. Here it is: https://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/839778/jewish/The-Wedding-Dress-That-Made-History.htm
Reblogged this on Fashionnation1on1 and commented:
Can you tell that we absolutely love Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things?
The woman who helped Mrs. Hensinger with the bodice and veil was my Grandmother, a well known, highly respected seamstress in Slatington, PA.
Hi Jan my name I sent Louie and I am a favourite for silk and especially well kept silk parachutes as I have about 4 I think not to mention the pilot chutes, but these chutes are Japanese chutes not made in America and the silk is almost like silk satin and has a shine to it when the sun shine glistens on the silk.
These chutes are from a Japanese pilot shot down in his Mitsubishi aircraft and he hit the silk and the Dutch women working on the farm saw him float down and landed in some trees but the main chute was not ripped from the branches so because he was disarmed by the women they let him go and took his chutes including the reserve and it was stored ever since for about 70 years and was down through the family and I was lucky enough to buy it on eBay for around $400 which I thought was cheap and I love it so much I sleep with it and it’s heavenly soft to sleep with so I thought I would tell you my little story and your wedding dress 👗 looks great .
Pingback: – Two-faced memento mori ring, 17th century
The dress is absolutely beautiful and the story gives a ton of information thank you :)
Pingback: Two-faced memento mori ring, 17th century | The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things
My great-grandmother made her own wedding dress from parachute silk. She later made it into doll clothes and dresses for her grandkids (including my mother), which were much loved, but I would still give anything to have a look at the dress as she wore it!
Actress Elyse Knox married Tom Harmon (1940 Heisman trophy winner for University of Michigan) in a gown made from the parachute that saved his life during WWII. Their children included actor Mark.
It is a very good device. There’re on the list of time honored pairs, your decide one of the best I would say. When i bought my personal own world wide web they will delivered extremely fast. We’re impressed by these Michael Kors Bags. There’re now very maintain tip toes now type on the distinctive temperatures. I have not worn these Michael Kors Bags within snow to date, but feel will have them similar to my some other pair, in addition to hold up against good.
I have a photograph of myself as an infant in a dress made of parachute silk. It’s still in the family to this day. (I’m in my late 40s)
My gran was married in a blouse made from parachute silk. The parachute was from a pilot who had been shot down over her town. She was Belgian catholic and my grandad was a British Protestant soldier. Her mother wouldn’t let her marry in a wedding dress because she was marrying a Protestant.
Pingback: From the dusty corners of the museum…Cornelia Parker | The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things
Pingback: Unusual retro beauty contests | The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things
Pingback: Agnes Richter’s embroidered straitjacket | The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things
Pingback: WWII Parachute Crash Test Dummies? | The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things
My mother begged her brother to get her a parachute to make a dress. Unfortunately, he was pretty clueless as to why she wanted it, and a tank-commander to boot. Tank crews have little use for parachutes.
He did deliver though, and wondered why she was not overcome with joy… The parachute he’d brought was in khaki!
If you dont mind, exactly where do you host your webpage? I am looking for a good quality host and your site seams to be quick and up all the time
I was pretty pleased to find this website. I wanted to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every bit of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new things in your blog.
This is fascinating, but actually more common than you’d think. My grandmother’s dress was made of parachute silk that my grandfather brought back. It was later cut down into a christening gown, which we still have. Pretty amazing story, though.
Very beautiful material. I wonder what effect a gust of wind would have on this little number?
Oddly, BBC Radio 4 just ran a drama program about a love story between a German pilot and a Scots woman… Pilot is shot down and crashes into a church during a wedding; he then offers his parachute (silk, not nylon) to be made into a replacement wedding dress. I wonder if this happened often enough that at least radio drama people got the idea?
I think you’re right, Cereal. I’d never heard of wedding dressses made of parachutes at all before, but your comment prompted me to do a little searching on the BBC archive and found some other stories about it. Although a dress made from the parachute that saved the groom’s life does indeed seem to be a special story, apparantly parachute silk was a practical choice for material when things were still being rationed after the war (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/82/a4217582.shtml). In the archive I also found a charming story of a father nervously having to guard an undetonated parachute bomb, and then claiming the material for his daughter’s wedding dress (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/59/a4078659.shtml), and another one about an English private who had to bail over the Netherlands, and after landing thought a German soldier was running toward him…but it was only a Dutch woman enthusiastically trying to get his parachute for precious dress material. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/23/a4623923.shtml)
Finally, there is another incredible story about two Holocaust survivors in the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Person’s camp, who traded coffee and cigarettes with a German soldier for his parachute to make a wedding dress for the young bride. The dress was later worn by at least 17 other brides in the camp, and is now in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (http://www.jewishweddingnetwork.com/the-wedding-gown-that-made-history).
What an amazing story!