‘Crown to Couture’ at Kensington Palace

I don’t usually do much in the way of “what’s happening in London now” posts, a combination of thinking that there are plenty of other sources for this sort of info and the fact that it takes me ages to get round to writing anything (if I ever do).

But the new ‘Crown to Couture’ exhibition at Kensington Palace is pretty darn special and well worth a visit. Even I – hardly known for my fashion sense or knowledge – had my socks blown clean off by what’s on display.

What the exhibition does is bring together the outlandish fashions worn at court in the 17th and 18th centuries with the costumes modelled by celebrities at events such as the Met Gala and the Oscars.

In both cases these are clothes with one purpose only – to have impact. They are completely impractical and would have no existence outside of public display – for example the 18thC ‘mantua‘ dresses which were two or more metres wide, or Katy Perry’s ‘chandelier dress‘. These are clothes to get the wearer noticed – either by 21st century celeb-hunting photographers, or by the significant people at the Georgian court; they succeed if they get one onto magazine covers, or noticed by the king.

There are some unbelievable dresses from the modern era and from the collections of dresses and menswear from the past.

The exhibition runs through the King’s and Queen’s apartments in the Palace, so if you go, don’t neglect to look around the rooms as well as at the displays. ‘Crown to Couture’ runs until October 2023, and you can find more information about it here.