House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth
25 March – 22 October 2017
This sumptuous display of clothing and jewellery explores the estate’s long history of fashionable residents.
Celebrated for its outstanding collection of art and sculpture, the stately home of the Cavendish family – the Dukes of Devonshire – is also rich with sartorial treasures. Indeed, when American Vogue editor Hamish Bowels was given free reign to hunt for glamorous costumes and precious jewels he found himself spoilt for choice, resulting in the property’s largest exhibition to date.
Spanning 15 generations, the display resurrects the most captivating – and fashionable – characters connected with the premises, beginning with the Elizabethan social climber Bess of Hardwick who oversaw the original building’s creation. Moving into the 1700s, the socialite and style icon Georgiana Cavendish takes centre stage and, to help visitors imagine the girl behind the garments, it’s possible to view her portrait by Joshua Reynolds in the house’s permanent collection.
The 20th century sees the injection of American trends, thanks to pieces belonging to the dancer Adele Astaire – complemented by rare surviving film footage of the star – and John F Kennedy’s sister Kathleen, affectionately known as ‘Kick’. From more recent times, Mario Testino’s 2006 photoshoot for Vogue positions supermodel Stella Tennant and her grandmother Deborah Cavendish outside the estate, effectively reaffirming its status as the epitome of English elegance.
Sprawled throughout the house, including the Painted Hall and Chapel, the display is arranged around different themes, including Coronation Dress, Entertaining at Chatsworth and the less formal Country Living. Of the standout exhibits, vintage couture pieces by Jean Phillippe Worth and Christian Dior compete against contemporary designs by Gucci, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.
One of the most personal items on display is the Givenchy bolero worn by the current Duchess of Devonshire on her wedding day in 1967.