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:
- WWII parachute crash test dummies
- Agnes Richter’s embroidered straitjacket
- Cornelia Parker dust earplugs
- Shary Boyle’s deformed porcelain figurines
- Prisoner inventions
- Embroidered toast by Judith Klausner