The most sumptuous and ambitious exhibition ever held at Chatsworth House opens its doors last weekend to showcase the style of women emblematic of the life of the castle over the centuries. From March 25 to October 22, 2017. The House Style exhibition at Chatsworth Castle honors the outfits worn by Duchesses Georgiana and Deborah, top model Stella Tennant, dancer Adele Astaire and JFK’s sister.
Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth exhibition, as part of the house style, the castle’s grand salons feature haute couture dresses, tiaras and headdresses, baptism and bridal gowns, coronation dresses and costumes. This reveals the style of the female personalities who embellished the Chatsworth House salons, including Duchess Georgiana (innovator of fashion in the 18th century), Duchess Deborah, Adele Astaire, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy and ex-top-model Stella Tennant.
The idea of the House Style exhibition was born when Lady Burlington went in search of a baptismal dress for her son James in the castle archives. When she discovers the number of clothes and textiles amassed over the centuries, she asked for permission to bring in an expert to take a look at them. The expert was: Hamish Bowles, foreign correspondent of the American edition of Vogue. He made several visits to Chatsworth House until he realized that the archives were of such value and magnitude that they had to be presented to visitors.
After six years of work, House Style features a chronological frieze along the long corridor leading to the chapel where the visitor can admire more than 100 personal letters, a gold brooch belonging to the Duchess Georgiana, gloves and bags Silk evening, miniatures, photos and crocodile shoes from the 11th Duke of Devonshire.
Six “Evening of the Century” dresses were also brought together. For the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, they had organized the costume ball of the century. London’s Lafayette photography studio to set up a tent in the garden behind the castle to immortalize the guests in their prom dress. Today, the House Style exhibition presents many of these wonderful images. From one of these photographs, the jeweler C W Sellors of Derbyshire managed to recreate the headdress worn by the Duchess Louise in order to complete the costume presented in the exhibition.
This Gucci sponsored exhibition also includes two dresses personally designed by creative director Alessandro Michele for the Duchess of Devonshire and Lady Burlington. Inspired by the books of Maria Sybilla Merian of the Devonshire Collection, the Duchess’s dress will be displayed in the State Closet, while the dress adorned with many Lady Burlington beads will be displayed in the State Music Lounge.
House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth was supported by Gucci, the show’s main sponsor, jeweler C W Sellors, Investec, Sotheby’s and Wedgwood. The curator of the exhibitation was Hamish Bowles, international correspondent for the American edition of Vogue. Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda, the duo with some of the most fashion exhibitions of the last years, were in charge of artistic direction and design. Also, Rizzoli published House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth, a book edited by Hamish Bowles with a preface by the Duke of Devonshire and an introduction by the Countess of Burlington.
The exhibition concludes with great glamour in the Salle des Banquets: the end of the great costumed ball is evoked through more than thirty guests wearing magnificent couturier outfits as prestigious as Chanel, Balmain, Vivienne Westwood, Dior , Tom Ford and Erdem.