Five must-see items at Chatsworth's House Style exhibition
House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth is at Chatsworth from 25 Mar 2017 until 22 Oct 2017. There’s 50% off entry with a National Art Pass.
Shepherdess fancy dress costume
- Russell and Allen, 1889
This beautiful shepherdess fancy dress costume was made by Russell & Allen of London and worn by Duchess Evelyn (then Lady Evelyn Fitzmaurice) in India. Her father, the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, was Viceroy of India from 1888 to 1894. The dress is 18th-century inspired with a curvaceous buttoned bodice, and waist measuring just 21.5". This is the first time this fragile dress has been exhibited, requiring hours of painstaking work by Chatsworth's in-house textiles team to ensure its stability for the duration of the exhibition. It features in the South Sketch Gallery.
- Lords of Burlington Arcade
Sixteen navy blue jumpers are on display in the State Bed Chamber, just part of the 11th Duke of Devonshire’s collection of knitwear bearing mottos. All made by Lords of Burlington Arcade they feature names of favourite racehorses, travel destinations, and playful phrases such as NEVER MARRY A MITFORD and FAR BETTER NOT, which was the phrase of recourse for the 8th Duke, 'when people – colleagues, civil servants – came up with schemes, proposals or plans'.
- Vetements, 2016
Inclusion of this eye-popping dress, belonging to the Countess of Burlington, illustrates the extremely strong contemporary thread running throughout the exhibition. Hot off the press, arriving just a few days before the show opened, were two creations by Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele. Gucci shot their 'Cruise 2016' campaign at Chatsworth and, during his time here, Michele was inspired to design two unique gowns for the Duchess of Devonshire and Countess of Burlington. Both completely personalised, they were installed onto mannequins with a few days to spare and can be seen in the State Music Room and State Closet.
Carmel evening dress
- Christian Dior Haute Couture, 1953
In 2015, having amassed all of the clothes under consideration for the exhibition in one location, the Countess of Burlington and Hamish Bowles (curator and international editor-at-large of American Vogue), were picking through everything in great detail and, quite out of the blue, Bowles spotted a pale pink dress casually draped over one of the clothes rails. With his encyclopaedic knowledge of fashion, he knew immediately that this was a 1953 design by Christian Dior, simply with a missing label. It had belonged to Deborah Devonshire and lain unidentified. We were able to formally identify this important piece for the archive, and it can be found on display in the Great Dining Room.
- Givenchy, 1967
The Duchess of Devonshire was 23 when her godmother, Carmen Esnault-Pelterie, who worked with Givenchy, offered to give her a wedding dress ahead of her marriage to the future 12th Duke of Devonshire. They both went to the Givenchy show and it proved tricky, as long dresses had gone out of fashion at that time. They waited and waited and then, towards the end of the show, they saw the one. On 28 June 1967 the Duchess walked down the aisle at St Martin-in-the-Fields wearing her A-line dress in ziberline silk and bolero picked out in 3D organza flowers. The dress sadly no longer survives, but the bolero is on show in the Chapel along with other family wedding gowns, including Lady Celina Carter’s classically 1990s confection with Winnie-the-Pooh buttons running down the back, and Stella Tennant’s cutting edge 1990s Helmut Lang commission.