Lights, camera, glamour! Bellville Sassoon, the designer label that has dressed the world’s most-watched fashion icons like Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor is the subject of a new showcase at the Fashion and Textile Museum.
David Sassoon, one of the primary designers behind the legendary label who retired last year after 55 years at the helm, showed us around the space, transporting us back to the age of romantic occasion dresses for grand balls during the ’60s and ’70s – a speciality of Bellville Sassoon – and all the way to the modern, ready-to-wear styles of current designer Lorcan Mullany. You’ll certainly recognise at least a few of the iconic frocks on show – in particular those of the royal family. Incredibly, Bellville Sassoon has dressed all female members of the royal family – apart from the Queen – starting with Princess Anne’s bridesmaid’s dress in 1960.
But the main highlight of the exhibit is Sassoon’s relationship with Princess Diana of Wales – he’s created over 70 designs for her since 1981. Many of her notes are on display scribbled alongside his sketches. In one letter she wrote, ‘Dear David, how incredibly clever of you to draw the exact thing I wanted’, of a stunning red evening gown. You’ll get to ogle a couple of her celebrated outfits in the flesh, including the famous blue off-the-shoulder gown dubbed the ‘fairy dress’. Don’t overlook the sketches either, as they are full of character.
Prince William and Prince Harry, along with the V&A Museum are just a couple of the individuals and institutions that lent outfits for this showcase. Our favourite, however, was a structured floral long-sleeved dress from the ’70s worn by Baroness Fiona von Thyssen (lend it to us after the exhibit, Fiona?). But Regardless of your affinity for high-class society attire, do pop by to pay homage to your inner princess and play imaginary dress-up. Jean Grant
The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon runs until Jan 11, 2014. Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF. Open Tue-Sat, 11am-6pm.