Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 – V&A

I decided to take a stroll from Chelsea bridge to the V&A to make the most of the beautiful weather while it’s still around and have a look in the windows of all the boutiques along the way. That’s really what I was expecting from this show, a chance to look back through the designer shop windows of days gone by and I wasn’t disappointed. It was packed by the time we got there, but I guess mid morning on a saturday is always going to be a busy time. The downstairs is laid out by colour of garment and follows round the circular space with dresses displayed in front of formal regency backgrounds. The fact that they have been organised by colour works well giving the viewer a feast for the eyes with a mixture of styles all placed together. The downstairs juxtaposes very well with the bold modern design upstairs where the dresses are interlaced between stages and large balls. Throughout emphasis on the relationship between designer and client is prevalent, with each description giving a clear indiction of the when, where and who the dress was involved with. One of my favourites is Cindy Beadman’s Pink embroidered and quilted silk bustier, jacket and crinoline skirt. I can’t really imagine anyone wearing them these days without ending up on a worse dressed list, but the workmanship is stunning and I could happily stare at them all day long. My other favourite is Roland Mouret’s structure pink dress, unfortunately although understandably you’re not allowed to take photographs so I’m stuck with posting this one of Maggie Gyllenhaal wearing it and as beautiful as she is she doesn’t quite do it justice.

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