This amazing exhibition demonstrates the power of fashion and brings to life, through their belongings some of the best known members of the Cavendish family, including:
- Bess of Hardwick, one of the most powerful women of the 16th century
- The 18th century “Empress of Fashion” Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
- Adele Astaire, the sister and dance partner of Fred Astaire
Also featured are Deborah Devonshire and Nancy Mitford, two of the Mitford sisters, model Stella Tennant and John F Kennedy’s sister ‘Kick’ Kennedy.
For admirers of haute couture, the display includes sumptuous garments designed by Jean Philippe Worth, Christian Dior, Gucci, Helmut Lang, Margiela, Vivienne Westwood, Erdem, Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Vetements.
Combining fashion, jewellery and personal letters, the exhibition includes items belonging to the present Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, along with others from the Devonshire family collections, all set within the magnificent backdrop of Chatsworth House. Coronation robes, fancy-dress costumes, livery and uniforms are on display, giving us an insight into the enormous breadth of fashion and adornment enjoyed by members of the of the Devonshire family throughout the generations.
The exhibition is divided into four separate themes:
Traditions and Transgressions
In the stunning Painted Hall, we are treated to examples of formalwear worn by the Duchesses Evelyn and Mary, including coronation robes, but also to punk innovation, thanks to supermodel Stella Tennant, (niece of the present duke).
The Circle of Life
Making use of christening robes, wedding dresses and mourning attire, this part of the exhibition allows the stories of several members of the Cavendish family to be told and demonstrates their very different tastes in fashion and style.
Duchess Georgiana was the acknowledged fashion leader of Georgian England and her influential taste was also celebrated at the French court of her friend Queen Marie Antoinette. Georgiana’s dashing and romantic style has endured well into the 20th and even 21st centuries, exemplified by a dramatic dress by John Galliano (from his 1998 spring/summer haute couture collection for Christian Dior) displayed in the South Sketch Gallery.
The Devonshire House Ball 1897.
In 1897, the 8th Duke and his wife, Duchess Louise, hosted a spectacular costume ball at Devonshire House, the family’s London residence until 1919, which proved the highpoint of a season that celebrated Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The theme was “allegorical or historical costume before 1815.” The State Drawing Room showcases seven outfits from the Ball set amongst original furniture from Devonshire House.
The exhibition closes on 22nd October, 2017 and is well worth a visit. It is the best exhibition I have ever seen, both for its content and the superb settings in which the exhibits are displayed.
A more extensive gallery of photos from the exhibition can be viewed on our Facebook page.