Friday, 8 June 2012

V&A Ballgown Exhibition, London

Ballgowns,  " ... remain a special part of a woman's wardrobe" - H.R.H Princess Alexandra

They are the highpoint of a designers seasonal collection requiring creativity and many labourious hours in craftmanship to produce.
This post is dedicated to my good friend Virginia from Glamour Drops who would have loved to see it in person ... you still have plenty of time for a visit Virginia, it's on until January 2013!

Erdem's 'Rumina' silk with appliqué, quilting and beading
Photograph by David Hughes

This Erdem creation, I must admit was my favourite. The fabric, appliqué and beading towards the bottom of the skirt was exquisite!

The exhibition is displayed over two levels of the newly revamped fashion galleries of the museum.
As you enter the ground floor of the exhibition, you are immediately struck by Yuki's raspberry-pink silk chiffon kaftan dress (1972) on the left.

 Continuing around the ground floor, creations from the '50's up to the turn of the 20th century are displayed, from royal ballgowns including the "Elvis dress"designed by Catherine Walker for Princess Diana, to a large number of posh formal wear, created for débutante balls by the likes of Hardy Amies, Zandra Rhodes as well as royal couturier Norman Hartnell.

However, the new upstairs mezzanine level featuring 21st century British designs displayed in the brand new crinoline-like domes were the highlight for me. You were able to get up close to the gowns to see the exquisite details ... and some of the mannequins were on rotation.

Vivienne Westwood 2011 silk satin & tulle  ©V&A

Craig Lawrence 2010-11 ©V&A

Designers on show included Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Gareth Pugh, Mary Katrantzou, Giles Deacon, Roksanda Ilincic, Craig Lawrence, Mark Fast, Hussein Chalayan and Stella McCartney to name a few.

Unfortunately photography was not allowed in the exhibition, but I did manage to take photos of the revamped fashion gallery around the exhibition below. This part of the exhibition is free.

Images of the gowns were projected on the ceiling alcoves around the exhibition

Christian Dior

Ossie Clark

images 7-15 belong to Iced VoVos

If you can't get enough and would like to see more of the Ballgown exhibition, head on over to Fashionista Barbie's Facebook pages for lots more images.

Or better still, if you can get your hands on Ballgowns British Glamour since 1950 by Oriole Cullen and Sonnet Stanfill ... the photographs by David Hughes are spectacular!

I also picked up Twentieth Century fashion in Detail by Claire Wilcox and Valerie D. Mendes ... a must for any fashion enthusiast, showing lovely close-up photos of detailed seams, gathers, pleats, bows, applied decoration etc.

Hope you have a lovely weekend!


  1. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you Marina! I have just got home (midnight here) from seeing the opening night of Bell Shakespeares' Macbeth, and thought the night couldn't get any better. Then I see you have posted this treat. And what a treat. I feel that i am right there in the museum, looking at these images, scuttling along the mezzanine floors in eagerness. The Erdem fantasy is so very beautiful! Fabulous post. Your daughter must have finished her exams. Have a glorious weekend. Xx

  2. I am absolutely determined not to miss this exhibition - even more so after seeing your pictures!
    Have a great weekend - fingers crossed for sun!
    Paula x

  3. Hi Marina,
    This is on my list of things to do when things get back to normal.
    Thank you for the reminder!
    Hope you have a lovely day.


Thank you for your lovely comments!


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