Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 at The V&A
No longer associated with modern fashion, ballgowns are becoming a wonder of the past. It is easy, with fast paced trends of the 21st century, to forget the care put into these intricate designs, as dresses are disregarded as old fashioned by high street brands. Through 60 carefully selected designs, ‘Ballgowns: 50 Years of British Glamour’ highlights the evolution of the traditional ball gown, from Royal robes to red carpet wonders.
The classic creations date back to 1948, and showcase a world of luxury pieces ranging from classic, feminine ‘50s designs to, to
glamourous modern day frocks worn by the 21st century elite. Princess Diana’s pearl ensemble is displayed alongside a Russo dress for Beyonce.
Celebrity galas and charity events have taken over from Royal parties and debutante events of the 20th century, pushing the art of luxury ballgowns into the shadow of the changeable trends of modern fashion.
Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen are among the favourite designers of younger Royals, who are required to wear gowns to state visits and Royal events, but seek a modern twist to their outfits.
The transition from full bodied ’50s frocks to the figure hugging choices of modern celebrities highlights the change in the nature of formal events and the dress codes required. Modern trends get tighter and more avant garde in style, whilst older styles were looser to allow dancing and movement.
Despite the fashion world’s fast paced frivolity, this beautifully curated exhibition certainly shows off the best of British designers, and their ability to span eras with their awe inspiring designs. From debutante balls to red carpet parades, Emanuel to McCartney, brutish designers never fainting incorporate a contemporary twist to the most elegant pieces.
Be sure to check out the beautiful detail in Norman Hartnell’s dress designed for the Queen mother in 1953 and Liz Hurley’s 1999 rose printed dress designed by Elizabeth Emanuel and worn for Estee Lauder’s ‘Pleasures’ advertising campaign.
Whether it’s the modern day feather creations of McQueen or Amanda Wakeley’s latex piece that gets your sartorial senses flowing, or you prefer elegantly structured intricacies of traditional gowns, the luxury fabrics, colours and designs on display at the V&A are a source of wonder for lovers of fashion from every era.
Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 is showing at the V&A Museum until January 6th 2013.
Photos from V&A Press Department.