This extravagant exhibition explores the similarities between the world of today’s red carpet and the Georgian Royal Court in the 18th century.
What we do know about fashion is the way in which while one year something might be in fashion and the next not – but it does have a habit of coming around again. In this gloriously extravagant exhibition at Kensington Palace, Crown to Couture highlights just how we can make comparisons between the red carpet events of today with the glamour of the Georgian court in the 18th century.
Using the palace effectively as a background for showcasing many outfits from the 18th century as well as those seen on the red carpet today, the exhibition takes visitors through the different rituals and rules that applied when attending Georgian court and how they in many ways influence what happens on the red carpet today. There is particular influence on the ideas of how clothing has to the power to demonstrate power and influence. Whether it is for political impact or for highlighting a cause to get it into the public’s attention, the point of this exhibition is clear: there is more to the power of clothing than making someone look glamorous.
From the gorgeously preserved outfits from the 18th century (which in all honesty still look as though they were made yesterday), perfectly blended with some stunning outfits created for celebrities ranging from Audrey Hepburn’s outfit she wore to the Oscars to Blake Lively’s dress that she wore to the Met Gala in 2022, there is much to be admired about this exhibition that winds its way throughout the palace. The way in which the outfits have been cleverly selected ensures that the compare and contrast through the different eras is clear throughout and I also admired the way in which this exhibition is used to highlight information and history of the palace itself.
While a few of the rooms feel a little bit cramped and many will be interested in seeing up close the outfits worn by their favourite celebrities (on the day I went, Kendall Jenner’s stunning dress for the 2021 Met Gala, created by Matthew M Williams for Givenchy was a popular attraction) as opposed to the Georgian era (the room which highlighted the fashionable influential people including Georgiana Cavendish felt a little bit dull and deserved a bit more space) – but there is no denying that you leave feeling that many of the rules of Georgian court when it comes to fashion are still very much in play today.
There is certainly a regal feel to the whole exhibition in the way in which certain items and clothing are displayed, highlighted in the throne room where you can catch a glimpse of Beyonce’s golden outfit, dazzling in the grandeur of the room, while Katy Perry’s chandelier costume shimmers in another space. It is a glitzy and special exhibition, particularly when you wonder through the king’s gallery, filled with spectacular outfits worn by the likes of Lady Gaga, Timothée Chalamet and many more besides. Meanwhile, in the section titled ‘The After Party’, you get a real sense of just how influential the Georgian court is on fashion and attitudes today, the way in which things have been tailored and the sense of drama, flamboyancy and elegance is really enhanced to another level in this section.
Overall, there is plenty to be admired here and is well worth paying a visit to, whether you are interested in celebrities or fashion. A dazzling addition to the London exhibition scene.
By Emma Clarendon
Crown to Couture is on display at Kensington Palace until the 29th October.