Yellow Velvet Wedding Dress, 1918
Gift of Cleo Zalk
Lylian Shapiro wore this stunning yellow silk panné velvet dress to marry Louis Zalk on December 23, 1918. The couple was wed at the bride’s parents’ home in Duluth, Minnesota, with the ceremony performed by Rabbi Dr. Maurice Lefkowitz of Temple Emanuel. The newlyweds left the next day for their honeymoon, taking the train to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and finally, New York City. Lylian writes in her wedding memory book that she and Louis “had nine glorious days there, going to theatre, opera, concert, shopping, and hubby visiting East Side, his delight.” The couple stayed at the Biltmore Hotel and spent New Year’s Eve on Broadway; how very glamorous!
Sadly, we don’t have a photo of the beautiful bride in her dress, but her wedding memory book notes that she wore it with the amber beaded belt and paired the ensemble with “aluminum cloth slippers” to match the silver panel at the neckline. The dress was made by Helen of Minneapolis, a specialty dressmaking shop within Dayton's department store run by sisters Helen, Belle, and Marie Gjertsen from 1906-1923. The sisters made semiannual buying trips to London and Paris to ensure their clients had the most up-to-date fashions. While yellow velvet seems like an unconventional choice, women throughout history have often chosen to be married in an elegant dress they could wear again, and the “traditional” white wedding gown we think of today has only been popular since Queen Victoria wore a white dress for her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. Lylian Zalk’s yellow velvet was both stylish and practical.
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