Five must-see fashion shows

  • 19 September 2013

To mark the end of London Fashion Week we've chosen five unmissable haute-couture exhibitions, from Parisian fashionistas to a king's pearl earring.

1. The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon

The Fashion and Textile Museum, London
50% off with National Art Pass

A high-society label best known for dressing the Princess of Wales, Bellville Sassoon has had a recent renaissance thanks to the rise of Eighties retro. This exhibition celebrates the idiosyncratic off-the-shoulder style of the company, which was founded by Belinda Bellville and David Sassoon.

2. Pearls

V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum), London
50% off with National Art Pass

From early Rome to Marilyn Monroe, pearls have brought glamour to jewellery boxes for thousands of years.  Notable pieces on display include the pearl earring worn by Charles I at his execution and a group of tiaras gifted to Marilyn Monroe by Joe DiMaggio, alongside contemporary items from Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany and more.

3. Laura Ashley: The Romantic Heroine

The Bowes Museum, County Durham
Free with National Art Pass

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Laura Ashley, a label that looked back to the demure ideals of the Victorian era at a time when the rest of the world was looking to the future. The Romantic Heroine focuses on the dresses that caught the public imagination in the late-Sixties, when optimistic dreams of a utopian future gave way to disillusionment, and people turned to the past to find comfort.

4. Hello, My Name is Paul Smith

Design Museum, London
50% off with National Art Pass

Though best known for his fashion work (and trademark stripes), Paul Smith's talents range far beyond clothing. This retrospective features Paul Smith-designed cameras and rugs alongside a recreation of his famously fascinating office, a cabinet of curiosities packed with objects that inspired him, as well as a range of his boldly innovative fashion items.

​5. Christian Dior: Designer in Focus

Gallery of Costume, Manchester
Free to all

Few stars in fashion have shone as brightly or as briefly as Christian Dior, whose career began in 1947 with the launch of his extravagant 'New Look' and ended only ten years later following a heart attack. Highlights at this show include a cocktail dress designed by the young Yves Saint Laurent, who succeeded Dior as chief designer following his death. 

Tags: What to seeExhibitionsGreat days out