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Press Release: Red carpet couture meets historic fashion in major new exhibition at Kensington Palace next spring

Crown to Coutureopens 5 April 2023

Exhibition generously supported by Garrard and the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

The glittering world of the Georgian court will come head-to-head with the high glamour of the modern-day red carpet in a new exhibition set to open at Kensington Palacefamously a stage set for historic fashion - next spring.Crown to Couturewill see contemporary couture worn by high profile celebrities including Lizzo and Lady Gaga, displayed alongside historic costumedrawing fascinating parallels between the world of the red carpet and the world of the Royal Court in the eighteenth century.

Set to be the largest exhibition ever staged at the palace, over 200 fascinating objects will be going on display across the glittering State Apartments and intimate exhibition spaces, from some of the finest examples of 18thcentury court dress to iconic contemporary red carpet looks. The display will take visitors on a journey, from the preparation and styling required for an attendance at one of the hottest tickets in townand the “fashion rules” that must befollowed, to the grand arrivals at both the court and the red carpet. Visitors will learn what it takes to get noticed, the subtle messages clothing can deliver, and the design influences outfits can take inspiration from, before stepping insidethe notorious “after party”.To create the experience, Historic Royal Palacesthe charity that cares for Kensington Palaceis working with Emmy award-winning production designer Joseph Bennett, who is best known for his creationof Alexander McQueen’s famous catwalk shows, promising a truly unforgettable visit.

For the first time,Kensington Palace’s spectacularState Apartments, witness to near-daily lavish events in the Georgian era, will showcase a host of recognisable 21stcentury red carpet looks, drawing parallels between the two periods.The King’s Gallery, which once formed one of the centralspaces “to see and be seen” at the Palace, will be filled to the brim withstunning dress, just as it would have been over 300 years ago. Among the dazzling items going on display is the Thom Browne dress worn by musician Lizzo to the 2022 Met Gala, complete with gold cape jacket. In keeping with the 2022 Galatheme of “Gilded Glamour”the two- piece ensemble features a plain black corset gown and billowing jacket with intricate gold detailing, styled by Jason Rembert. It will be joined, among many others, by the luminous green gown worn by Lady Gaga to the 2020 MTV Awards. Created by Christopher John Rogers, the vast skirt of the futuristic-style dress is not dissimilar to the size and scale of dresses that would have been worn in this historic space centuries before, designed to be noticed. TheKing’s Gallery –populated with beautiful dress worn by well-known faces - will create a connection across the centuries, demonstrating how just as the celebrities of today are on show and subject to scrutiny at public events, the fashion worn by Georgian visitors to

these spaces would have been watched by throngs of onlookers and reported widely in the newspapers just as they are today.

Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: ‘We’re thrilled to becollaborating with a wide variety of well-known fashion houses and emerging designers to showcase some of the most iconic red carpet looks of recent years and celebrate the wonderful diversity and creativity we see there today. By bringing these familiar looks into the Palace and placing them in conversation with spectacular 18thcentury court dress, we hope to provide a new perspective on these historic spaces and the seemingly distant customs of the Georgian Court, and allow visitors to experience the Palace as it was meant to be experienced: filled to the brim with the most fashionable and influential names of the day.

Along with the modern looks created by some of the hottest designers of today, the exhibition will pay homage to the stunning design of the Georgian age, from the distinctive mantua to the intricately embroidered court suit. Among the objects will be examples of some ofHistoric Royal Palace’s owncollectionthe Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection - which is cared for by a team of experts at Hampton Court Palace. Highlights will include the Rockingham Mantua, brocaded in silver thread and silver lace trim and believed to have been worn by the wife of British Prime Minister, the 2ndMarquess of Rockingham, in the 1760s. The large dress worn over wide hoops is synonymous with the era and will be one of a number going on display, alongside an array of accessories including fans, dress swords, hats, jewellery, shoes, stockings, stays and even a wig curler!

Other historic items set to be unveiled include the world-famous Silver Tissue Gown, on loan from the Fashion Museum Bath, which will form the opening to the exhibition. A rare example of fashion worn at the court of Charles II and handmade of fine silk woven with silver thread, the gown perfectly encapsulates the origins of Georgian court culture and fashion. It is believed to have been worn to court by a young Lady Theophila Harris, who later went on to become the wife of MP Sir Arthur Harris of Hayne, and as one of very few complete dresses from the 17thcentury, it forms just one of many treasures set to bring to life this opulent era.

Polly Putnam, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said:Just as the designers of today dress celebrity royalty for important public events, Kensington Palace was home to the original red carpet of the Georgian court.Crown to Couturewill demonstrate the similarities in the fashion“rules” set out byhigh society designers, drawing fascinating comparisons between the present day and the 18thcentury, when the Palace was at its most busy, exciting and politically and culturally important.”

Crown to Coutureopens to the public on 5 April 2023 and is included in palace admission. Historic Royal Palaces are especially grateful to our sponsors, Garrard and the Blavatnik Family Foundation, for their generous donations which have enabled the exhibition to take place.

Notes to Editors
For further information and images
please contact Sophie Lemagnen in the Historic

Royal Palaces Press Office 020 3166 6166
Crown to Coutureopens at Kensington Palace on 5 April 2023, and will run until 29 October.

Tickets: Adult £25.40 / Concession £20.30 / Child £12.70. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.

Historic Royal Palacesis a team of people who love and look after six of the most wonderful palaces in the world. We create space for spirits to stir and be stirred. We want everyone to feelwelcome and accepted. We tell stories about the monarchs you know and the lives you don’t.We let people explore and we set minds racing. We are a charity and your support gives the palaces a future, for everyone.

Registered charity number 1068852. For more information

Garrardhas created some of the most famous jewellery in existence for clients includingQueen Victoria and Diana, Princess of Wales, rock and roll’s own royalty and Indian maharajas.The uniquely British formula: designs that endure an eternity, jewels that make history and craftsmanship that delivers a bold vision. See more

The Blavatnik Family Foundationis an active supporter of world-renowned educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and throughout the world. The Foundation is headed by Sir Leonard Blavatnik, a global industrialist and philanthropist and the founder and chairman of Access Industries, a privately held industrial group based in the U.S. with global strategic interests. See more

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