Photography "Exalted" by Hunter Madsen


TITLE - "Exalted"
WHERE - Discount Bridal Warehouse, San Diego, California (2016)

This photo series was shot at several different bridal and formal wear shops, most of them located in the suburban malls of San Diego. The gowns and displays showcased  at these shops were often bizarre and sometimes inadvertently comical: they radiated, quite un-self-consciously, American society's growing neuroses, retreating fantasies, and persistent insecurities concerning the ideal of spotless matrimony, as well as the imperative for all brides - no matter how oafish, drab, or obese on most days - to somehow inhabit, if only for a few hours in their life, a state of immaculate beauty and angelically feminine delicacy. Yes, a seemingly doomed mission, yet one that is usually rendered victorious anyway through the adoring - and up to the alter, at least, excusing  - eyes of love.  Even so, the fate of more than half of all wedding gowns shown here is to end up, within five years of purchase, as an embarrassingly extravagant memento of disillusion and divorce.  Natch, the "ever after" industry has recently moved into the bridal gown rental business, which is booming. And so the dream lives on.