LONDON — Kensington Palace will stage its largest exhibition yet in April with a show called “Crown to Couture” that draws parallels between the red carpet fashion of today and the lavish royal court dress of 18th-century England.
The show will open on April 5 with more than 200 objects on display in the State Apartments. The show will focus on how the rich and privileged in both centuries prepared for big events; the sartorial choices they made, and how they dressed to draw attention to themselves.
Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that oversees the parts of Kensington Palace open to the public, has tapped the Emmy award-winning production designer Joseph Bennett, who is also known for working on Alexander McQueen’s catwalk shows, to create the spectacle.
Among the items on display will be the Thom Browne outfit and long gold cape that Lizzo wore to the 2022 “Gilded Glamour” Met Gala, and the luminous green gown by Christopher John Rogers that Lady Gaga donned for the 2020 MTV Awards.
Moschino has loaned several pieces to the exhibition, including the Chandelier dress worn by Katy Perry to the 2019 Met Gala; Iris Law’s couture feather dress, and Jeremy Scott’s gold bejeweled suit.
Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said by bringing familiar red carpet looks into the palace “and placing them in conversation with spectacular 18th-century court dress, we hope to provide a new perspective on these historic spaces, and the seemingly distant customs of the Georgian Court.”
Acott Williams said she wants visitors “to experience the palace as it was meant to be experienced: filled to the brim with the most fashionable and influential names of the day.”
Polly Putnam, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “Kensington Palace was home to the original red carpet of the Georgian court,” adding that the show will highlight the similarities in the fashion rules set out by high society designers.
The Georgian fashions have been drawn from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection at Hampton Court Palace. Looks on display will include the Rockingham Mantua, which is brocaded in silver thread and has silver lace trim.
Curators said the large gown, which was worn worn over wide hoops, is “synonymous with the era” and will be displayed alongside fans, dress swords, hats, jewelry, shoes, stockings, stays and even a wig curler.
— With contributions from Hikmat Mohammed.