In the 1940s, a bridal trend was picking up steam around the country, but not every wedding was suited for it. The groom had to have been facing death in World War II and toting a parachute—an object that made the perfect material for a wedding dress.
The Pinterest-worthy fashion (if Pinterest had existed then) began making the rounds as early as 1943, when St. Paul, Minnesota, native Lois Frommer wed Captain Lawrence Graebner while wearing his unused parachute, complete with a “U.S. Army” stencil and serial number in the fabric. It was reported that Frommer thought the creamy silk of the parachute was luxurious enough for the ceremony.
More profound were the weddings in which the bride wore a dress made of a parachute that actually saved her husband’s life. That was the case with the future Ruth Hensinger, whose husband-to-be, Major Claude Hensinger, was flying a B-29 that caught fire over Yowata, Japan, in August 1944. Hensinger and crew bailed out; Hensinger used the parachute as a pillow and blanket while awaiting rescue. He then proposed to Ruth using the chute instead of a ring.
Ruth wore the chute during their 1947 wedding in Pennsylvania and passed it down to both her daughter and daughter-in-law before it was donated to the Smithsonian.
But not all parachute gowns were romantic in nature. Owing to fabric shortages, sometimes any parachute would do. In 1947, Corning, New York, resident Deany Powers was gifted a parachute for her pending nuptials by her brother, Preston, though it wasn’t his—it had belonged to a German soldier.
[h/t Dusty Old Thing]