Hamish Bowles, International Editor-at-Large at American Vogue, has curated this landmark show with creative direction and design by Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda, the duo behind some of the most memorable fashion exhibitions of recent years.
House Style demonstrates the power of fashion and brings to life the captivating individuals from the Cavendish family, including Bess of Hardwick, one of the most powerful women of the 16th century; the 18th century “Empress of Fashion” Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire; and Adele Astaire, the sister and dance partner of Fred Astaire. Deborah Devonshire and Nancy Mitford, two of the Mitford sisters. Model Stella Tennant and John F Kennedy’s sister ‘Kick’ Kennedy will also be central to the show.
Layering art history, fashion, jewellery, archival material, design and textiles, the exhibition is organised by theme. Highlights include exceptional couture designed by Jean Phillipe Worth and Christian Dior, together with influential contemporary garments from designers such as Gucci, Helmut Lang, Margiela, Vivienne Westwood, Erdem, Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Vetements.
The show will also feature personal family collections, including items belonging to the current Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. These pieces are displayed alongside livery, uniforms, coronation robes and fancy-dress costumes, demonstrating the varying breadth of fashion and adornment from the Devonshire Collection throughout the generations. Important artworks are also on display, including rare costume designs from the early 17th century by Inigo Jones, Surveyor to the King’s Works and one of the most notable architects of 17th century England.
Discover some of the themes that make up the exhibition:
Traditions and Transgressions
From the time that the 1st Duke of Devonshire oversaw the creation of the magnificent space we know as the Painted Hall, this room has lifted spirits and raised expectations for visitors to the house. In ‘House Style’ two themes clash in this grand setting as we present, side by side, “Traditions and Transgressions”. From conventional coronation dress to punk innovation, view the evolution of formalwear as worn on the global stage by key Chatsworth figures, from Duchesses Evelyn and Mary, to supermodel Stella Tennant.
The Circle of Life
The genesis of this exhibition began when Lady Burlington began her search for a christening robe for her son, James, and was awakened to the potential of the clothing and accoutrements chosen by the members of the Cavendish family to tell their stories. The christening robe is on display in the 17th century chapel alongside wedding attire (exemplifying the very different tastes of the women of the family) and, completing the circle of life, the various choices of mourning dress and hats.
Duchess Georgiana was the acknowledged fashion leader of Georgian England and her influential taste was also celebrated at the French court of her friend Queen Marie Antoinette. Georgiana’s dashing and romantic style has endured well into the 20th and even 21st centuries, exemplified by a dramatic dress by John Galliano (from his 1998 spring/summer haute couture collection for Christian Dior) displayed in the South Sketch Gallery.
Devonshire House Ball 1897
In 1897, the 8th Duke and his wife, Duchess Louise, hosted a spectacular costume ball at Devonshire House, the family’s London residence until 1919, which proved the highpoint of a season that celebrated Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The theme was “allegorical or historical costume before 1815.” The State Drawing Room showcases seven outfits from the Ball set amongst original furniture from Devonshire House.
House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth has been made possible with the support of principal sponsor Gucci, together with major sponsors C.W. Sellors Fine Jewellery, Investec, Sotheby’s and Wedgwood, and supporting sponsor Perspex.