British fashion icons take over Blenheim Palace for its biggest exhibition to date
Blenheim Palace has revealed that from 23rd March until 30th June top fashion houses will be taking over a significant room in the UNESCO World Heritage site to create Icons of British Fashion.
Each room along the visitor route in the 300-year-old Palace will pay homage to a British fashion icon, starting in the Great Hall with designs on display by the late Dame Vivienne Westwood and creative partner Andreas Kronthaler.
Icons of British Fashion will continue through the Palace where visitors can marvel at the highly visual exhibition dramatically lit and displayed amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s own priceless collections.
Vivienne Westwood will present a selection of avant-garde looks, synonymous with the British fashion house. Tracing the long-term collaboration of Vivienne with her creative partner and husband Andreas Kronthaler, with a selection of looks created throughout their partnership. Including carefully curated gowns, corsets and capes handcrafted in their London atelier.
Jean Muir’s signature style married a distinctive purity of line with a fluidity on the body, to create the sensuous, deceptively simple clothes that became her trademark. Often referred to as the doyenne of British fashion, Miss Muir, as she insisted everyone call her, designed simple clothes that were timeless and elegant. Known for her precision cut and great attention to detail, Jean Muir clothes “stand alone”. The display will be a celebration of Muir’s designs throughout her career and includes the Bath Fashion Museum 1979 Dress of the Year.
Terry de Havilland
Icons of British Fashion will serve as a tribute to the brand’s illustrious journey through the decades, highlighting key styles that have left an indelible mark on the fashion landscape. This part of the exhibition will begin in 1973, a pivotal year which witnessed Terry de Havilland becoming a fashion phenomenon, adorned by style icons such as Bianca Jagger. The brand graced the cover of Playboy in 1974 and provided the signature shoes for the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show. Both these designs will be on display at Blenheim Palace.
As the years progressed, Terry de Havilland continued to be the footwear of choice for fashion luminaries. Notably, the brand crafted a bespoke, hand-painted pair of Zap Pow pop art shoes for the late Amy Winehouse’s UK tour, and one of the three original pairs will be a highlight of the exhibition. The exhibition will showcase Terry de Havilland’s commitment to pushing boundaries and creating footwear that transcends time.
Turnbull & Asser
Marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of an icon, Turnbull & Asser unveils a captivating collection inspired by Sir Winston Churchill’s traditions, sartorial choices, and disposition through attire.
Starting with the acclaimed siren suit, which is considered as one of his favourite garments during the war, we introduce a curated tribute capsule with specially designed elements. The Birth Room will feature a guiding motif of elegance and comfort that characterised Churchill’s style, while prestigious outdoor-themed hues will command The India room.
With the chandeliered Green Drawing Room as his backdrop, Bruce Oldfield wanted to capture the mood of the celebrated 1948 photograph by Cecil Beaton of a group of society women wearing the elegant gowns of Couture dress designer Charles James in a similarly grand room.
Bruce loves structure and technique and, for the 50 years of his career to date, these have been foremost in mind when designing clothes. His installation of ten seasonless designs from the last ten years displays a modern way of dressing for grand occasions. He has always aimed to de-bunk formality, so separates form a major part of this grouping. Intricately engineered and handstitched jackets and tops are paired with voluminous, pleated, mid-calf skirts, multi-panelled pants and floaty, pleated jupes-culottes.
Zandra Rhodes will be exhibiting her work in the Red Drawing Room of Blenheim Palace. Named after the beautiful red silk that adorns its walls and furniture, the room is also known as the Entertainment Room.
The dresses on show will celebrate Rhodes fifty-year long career of experimentation with vibrant statement textile prints. These are inseparable from the cut and shape of the garments – creating totally unique silhouettes. Vintage mannequins will be staged and dressed in an array of Rhodes exquisite and colourful printed garments, as if in the middle of a fabulous party.
Discover more about the Barbour brand beyond their iconic, much loved, wax jackets. Explore the family history, fashion collaborations and how they extend the life of their garments. Enjoy a celebration of those who wear the brand from farmers to rock stars and everyone in between. Expect the unexpected as the many facets of this very British brand are brought to life as the great outdoors takes over.
From the very first daring designs to the latest contemporary creations, the installation unveils for the first time a treasure trove of handbags from the Lulu Guinness archive, showcasing the evolution of design, craftsmanship, and glamour that has defined the brand for 30 years. Always at the forefront of innovation, Lulu Guinness looks into the future by presenting special one-of-a-kind pieces crafted from recycled materials exclusively for the Blenheim Palace exhibition.
Alice Temperley is creating an otherworldly, dreamlike party scene that will transport the visitor to a realm where reality blurs with fantasy. Showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship and ethereal escapism of Temperley London – the installation will capture a moment of unbridled celebration and intoxicating beauty.
Stephen Jones Millinery for Christian Dior
Stephen Jones celebrates the relationship with Christian Dior and Blenheim Palace initiated in 1954, and will showcase three complete outfits from the creative directors with whom he has collaborated since 1996. The British milliner has also designed a special smoking cap paying homage to Blenheim’s very own fashion icon Sir Winston Churchill, as 2024 marks the 150th anniversary of Churchill’s birth at his family’s ancestral home, Blenheim Palace.
Inspiration for this traditional velvet cap featuring his embroidered initials, button and tassel were taken from Sir Winston Churchill’s iconic siren suit and slippers. Within the lining, the cap features a hand-embroidered clementine in honour of his wife Clementine.
Experience a catwalk through the beautiful Long Library at Blenheim Palace with Stella McCartney’s iconic designs from throughout her career. In 2001, Stella McCartney launched her eponymous luxury fashion house and showed her first collection. A lifelong vegetarian, Stella has never used leather, feathers, skin or fur in any of her designs since day one – a revolutionary stance both then and now. Since those first seeds were planted, the brand has continued to grow its sustainability thought leadership through material and supply chain innovation, partnerships and beyond.
In addition to the creative curation by an array of legendary designers, Blenheim Palace will also be celebrating its own icon of fashion Sir Winston Churchill with a loan of one of the original Churchill Siren Suits from Turnbull & Asser, as well as a new take on the iconic boiler suit and a smoking cap designed by Steven Jones. The exhibition coincides with the national campaign honoring the 150th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s birth.
Admission to the Icons of British Fashion exhibition will be free with any valid Blenheim Palace ticket including Palace, Park and Gardens, Annual Pass or a Privilege Pass. For more information about the exhibition and to book tickets visit, www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/icons-of-british-fashion/