Kensington Palace had one of its largest exhibitions from April 5th to October 29th. The exhibition included over 200 artefacts drawing parallels between the Georgian Royal Court in the 18th century to modern day. It features the work of countless designers, antique ball gowns and iconic pieces worn throughout history, and was curated by Polly Putnam and Claudia Acott Williams.
Some of the more historical ball gowns shown in this exhibition were the Mantua dress from the mid-18th century. Another ball gown of historical significance is the Silver Tissue dress from the mid-17th century. Although much jewellery is included in the exhibition, some stellar pieces are Queen Victoria’s tiaras. Three of her tiaras, including the Emerald Tiara, were showcased.
Moving towards modern history, Audrey Hepburn’s 1954 Oscars dress was showcased. The beautiful short white dress was designed by Edith Head, later altered by Givenchy. Numerous rooms in Kensington Palace were used for this large-scale exhibition, from the State Apartments, five rooms to the Queen’s galleries. The State Apartments include the King’s Galleries, the King’s Presence Chamber, the King’s Drawing Room, and the Cupola Room.
Kendall Jenner’s 2022 Met gala could be seen after Hepburn’s Oscar dress. Jenner’s dress was inspired by Hepburn’s aesthetic, ornate with countless crystals. Visitors could also see a looped video of Jenner getting ready for the 2022 gala, highlighting how makeup and hair is an important factors in the fashion world.
The King’s Galleries were used as a red carpet on the right-hand side of the room, giving each design its space. On the red carpet could be seen Met Gala outfits including Billie Eilish’ 2021 pink dress mid-way through the carpet was Lady Gaga’s 2020 VMA performance look. Towards the end of the red carpet was Blake Lively’s 2022 Statue of Liberty-inspired dress with the light blue and bronze, pink overskirt showcased with Lizzo’s 2022 Tom Browne-designed black dress, coat and gold flute being the last outfit.
The Cupola room showed Billy Porter’s ‘Sun God’ look from the 2019 Met gala. Other rooms detail how Porter was inspired, and how the look was slowly designed and became such a large ensemble. Detailed with sketches, fabrics, video clips, and pictures. By presenting the information before seeing Porter’s extravagant look, when entering the Cupola room could simply appreciate the ensemble. Porter’s custom-made Giles Deacon look is also included in the exhibition.
Beyonce’s 2017 Grammy Award dress was showcased in the King’s Presence Chamber. Fans remember Beyonce’s pregnant performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards not only for her incredible performance but her sparkling dress from head to toe. Paired with a large halo in all gold, many praised Beyonce for her outfit, and the dress itself was placed where a monarch would be making fans courtesy.
Another shocking ensemble included in the exhibition was Katy Perry’s chandelier dress. The functioning lights were turned on so all visitors could see the dress as worn at the 2019 Met gala event, making the crystals shine from the dress’ own light. Exhibited in the King’s Drawing Room, the custom-made Moschino dress was awe-striking.
One room focused on fashion to make political statements. Including Lena Waithe’s Met 2018 outfit, including her rainbow cape, and Lizzo’s 2020 Billboard Music Award ‘vote’ dress. While in another room, the Queen’s Gallery, focused on showing fashion inspired by the 18th century. Featuring designs by Vivienne Westwood, Simone Rocha, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jeremy Scott, Richard Quinn, and Erdem Moralıoğlu. Included in the Queen’s Gallery is Monique Lhuiller’s designed dress that Phoebe Waller-Bridge wore to the 2019 awards surrounded by Emmy replica awards.
Despite this exhibition in Kensington Palace being no longer available, it drew incredible parallels between the Georgian Court and modern-day events. Whilst highlighting fashion as a statement of wealth, politics, and status throughout history.
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