Crown to couture! Exhibition at Kensington Palace’s State Apartments explores royalty’s influence on the red carpet
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A stunning new exhibition explores how red carpet royalty is – quite literally – today influenced by Georgian court dress and style.
The deep-dive into glamour features gorgeous installations at Kensington Palace’s State Apartments, which once hosted near-daily lavish parties for the crème de la crème of high society.
Starting from April 5, visitors are invited to see the similarities between the height of fashion during the historic period compared with modern day Hollywood haute couture.
It features more than 200 items – including ball gowns, court suits, handbags and jewellery – and promises to draw ‘fascinating parallels’ between the royals of the eighteenth century and today’s stars.
The exhibition – called Crown to Couture – will pay homage to iconic glitzy event looks from the modern vintage, presented against the backdrop of Georgian-period society.
Beyoncé’s look for the 2017 GRAMMY Awards will be displayed in the King’s Presence Chamber – the room where monarchs would once have received courtiers, ministers and foreign ambassadors
The King’s Drawing Room, which is known for its opulently ornate chandeliers, will meanwhile show off the custom designed Moschino dress (right) Katy Perry wore to the 2019 Met Gala (left)
This includes Billy Porter’s ‘Sun God’ outfit, styled by Sam Ratelle and designed by The Blonds for the 2019 Met Gala, and Kendall Jenner’s shimmering Audrey Hepburn-inspired Givenchy dress worn to the 2021 event.
It will also follow the meticulous process of preparation when dressing for the hot-ticket event of the season – both today in years past – looking at everything from underwear to make-up.
The role and importance of stylists is also explored, particularly looking at ‘the original stylist’ Frances Abington who was famed for his work during mid-18th century London.
Abington’s modern-day counterpart – Sam Ratelle, renowned as the ‘unsung hero’ of today’s red carpets – will also be celebrated.
Other stylish looks which will be paid homage to include Billie Eilish’s flowy vintage-style pink Oscar de la Renta gown from the 2021 Met Gala – which is the first visage visitors are greeted with on entry.
Lizzo’s Thom Browne dress, Iris Law’s Moschino cut out gown and Jessie Buckley’s Schiaparelli suit – all from the following year’s Met Gala – will also be included in the celebration of fashion.
Also featured will be Colman Domingo’s bright fuchsia Versace suit from the 2021 Oscars, Timothée Chalamet’s Tom Ford suit from Cannes 2021 and Lady Gaga’s stunning emerald green look – created by Christopher John Rogers for the 2020 MTV Awards. It was also styled with a gorgeously theatrical face mask by Lance Victor Moore.
Moreover, Beyoncé’s look for the 2017 GRAMMY Awards will be displayed in the King’s Presence Chamber – the room where monarchs would once have received courtiers, ministers and foreign ambassadors.
Other stylish looks which will be paid homage to include Billie Eilish’s flowy vintage-style pink Oscar de la Renta gown from the 2021 Met Gala
Billie’s dusky pink gown is the first visage visitors are greeted with on entry to the fashion exhibition
Lizzo’s Thom Browne dress, from the 2022 Met Gala, is also on display at the lavish, stylish exhibition
The King’s Drawing Room, which is known for its opulently ornate chandeliers, will meanwhile show off the custom designed Moschino dress Katy Perry wore to the 2019 Met Gala.
Some more historic features on show are a yellow mantua from National Museums Scotland – the widest surviving court gown in Britain at nearly three metres.
It was worn by Lady Helen Robertson of Ladykirk for her court debut in around 1760 – and was designed to make a lasting first impression.
‘We’re so excited to be transforming Kensington Palace’s State Apartments for our largest ever exhibition, Crown to Couture,’ Polly Putnam, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said.
‘To see these historic spaces filled with stunning examples of both historic and contemporary dress truly brings them to life, and we can’t wait for our visitors to experience these rooms in a completely new way.
‘From your choice of designer and materials to the subtle messages your dress communicates, this exhibition demonstrates the parallels between the world of the Georgian court and the modern day red carpet as they have never been seen before.’
Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Historic Royal Palaces remarked that the exhibition will make us feel closer to what may feel like an ancient past.
She said: ‘The customs of the Georgian court might seem distant and anachronistic, but we hope that Crown to Couture will provide a new and familiar lens through which to understand the palace’s spaces and the court’s traditions.
The looks include a floral gown worn by iconic cinema star Audrey Hepburn to the Oscars, in the 1950s
Pictured in the exhibition, a 1660s silver tissue gown worn by Lady Theophilia Harris (left) next to a dress designed by Edith Head for the film Roman Holiday (right)
Lady Gaga’s stunning emerald green look – created by Christopher John Rogers for the 2020 MTV Awards – is also on display
Lady Gaga’s bold ensemble was also styled with a gorgeously theatrical face mask by Lance Victor Moore
Phoebe Waller-Bridge wore a sophisticated, flowing champagne dress for the Emmy Awards in 2019. The gown is on display at the exhibition
It features more than 200 items – including ball gowns, court suits, handbags and jewellery – and promises to draw ‘fascinating parallels’ between the royals of the eighteenth century and today’s stars. Pictured, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s outfit
Billy Porter pictured at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards in 2020. This flowing ensemble is also on display
‘By placing historic court dress in conversation with contemporary red carpet fashion and modern celebrity we begin to see that they are perhaps not so alien after all.
‘We’re thrilled to be collaborating with a wide variety of exceptional creatives, including designers, stylists, performers and photographers, as well as renowned museums in order to explore the fascinating world of the Georgian court and once again fill these spaces with the leading artists of the day.’
Crown to Couture opens to the public on 5 April 2023 and is included in palace admission.
It will run until October 29.
Historic Royal Palaces’ exhibition is generously supported by Garrard, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Cunard.
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