Top Designers Take Over Blenheim Palace For Fashion Exhibition

Eleven British fashion designers including the late Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, Bruce Oldfield, Lulu Guinness and Zandra Rhodes are being celebrated in a new exhibition at Blenheim Palace.

The journey begins in the 300-year-old Great Hall which features designs from Westwood and her creative partner Andreas Kronthaler.

The concept behind the exhibition came from the keeper of the palace, Kate Ballenger.

“We wanted to create a group show that celebrated the best of British fashion,” she explained. “So, I invited the designers to the palace where they could pick a room, respond to the space and then we let them bring their vision to life.”

Dame Zandra Rhodes, who has designed garments for the likes of Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury, is displaying her outfits in the Red Drawing Room.  Her vintage mannequins are dressed in bright and colourful printed garments and sporting hairstyles that Rhodes – known as the princess of punk – has sported over her 50-year career.

In the Long Library, Stella McCartney has created a catwalk featuring classic designs from McCartney’s previous runways showcasing everything from a Beatles-inspired jacket to red carpet garments.

While most designers have decorated their rooms with historic pieces, British shirt-maker Turnbull & Asser have revealed an entirely new collection of designs inspired by Sir Winston Churchill. One historic item on display is an original outfit that Churchill commissioned during World War Two.

At the height of the war, Churchill asked Turnbull & Asser to create a one-piece garment that was generously cut, had breast pockets to keep cigars in and roomy side pockets.

The outfit, which became known as the famous siren suit, had a particular wartime appeal as it could easily be slipped on during air-raid sirens while keeping the wearer’s modesty. The traditional velvet cap features embroidered initials, button and tassel and a hand-embroidered clementine in honour of his wife Clementine.

Blenheim Palace has a long association with the fashion world and has been the home of several fashion shows and photo shoots over the years, including Christian Dior, who hosted two shows in 1954 and 1958 in aid of the Red Cross.

Icons of British Fashion will run until 30 June at Blenheim Palace – book your tickets at their website.