V&A: British Ballgowns

The V&A’s renovated Fashion Gallery is set to re-open with a show devoted to British ballgowns. The London museum is showcasing 80 spectacular dresses created by Brit designers over the past six decades in a show called Ballgowns: British Glamour since 1950.
As well as examining the history of the garment, charting its use at debutante balls, state occasions and opening nights up to their flashbulb drawing red carpet appearances, the exhibition will display landmark gowns and their most famous wearers. Among them will be show stoppers worn by the likes of Kate Moss, Daphne Guinness and Elizabeth Hurley.
A generous dose of regal lustre will be lavished on the show with Royal gowns displayed, including a Norman Hartnell gown designed for the Queen Mother and Princess Diana’s ‘Elvis Dress’, created by Catherine Walker.

With the ground floor and mezzanine devoted to the show, it is split into two sections. The ground floor shows gowns from 1950 to the 2000s from the museum’s permanent collection, styled to resemble the preparation and full swing of a grand country house ball. Alongside the gowns will be bags, gloves and shoes, with video and photography widening the context. On the mezzanine of the Fashion Gallery are contemporary interpretations of the gown arranged as though for a red carpet, with statement making versions – like Atsuko Kudo’s lace print latex version – proving the style’s evolving relevance.

Among the designers whose works fill the ranks at the show are Hardy Amies, Bill Gibb, Bellville Sassoon, Ossie Clark, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh, Giles, Erdem and Jenny Packham.
The show opens on May 19 and runs until January 6, 2013