The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon | A Celebration of Couture

6th September 2013
Gabrielle Westhead

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‘Belting Along with Bellville’: Lady Londonderry, in Bellville, standing left, Belinda at the wheel and me, with Belinda’s whippet, Albert , seated on the running board of the original Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, Courtesy of David Sassoon
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In my element: working with Belinda Bellville at Cadogan Lane, Courtesy of David Sassoon

This autumn, London’s Fashion and Textile Museum will celebrate its 10th anniversary by hosting an exhibition exploring the glory and glamour of Bellville Sassoon, Britain’s foremost high-society couture label, from 1950s to the present day.

This exhibition celebrates the culture, craft and international status of British couture fashion since the 1950s through the epitomising works of go-to debutant duo Belinda Bellville and David Sassoon. From the 1960s onwards, their youthful essence and luxurious workmanship offered a glamorous alternative to the more traditional post-war styles of time.

The collection features over 150 Bellville Sassoon designs and dresses commissioned by some of the world’s most stylish women. The designs demonstrate their reinvention of debutant style into the Swinging Sixties, a time when a new generation of celebrities and aristocrats wanted to be noticed for their couture labels.

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‘On the Town’: fringed flapper minidress, Courtesy of David Sassoon

Amongst dressing the season’s most lavish coming-out parties, influential weddings and high-powered balls, Bellville Sassoon also fitted royal clients, including Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, Princess Michael of Kent and even Diana, Princess of Wales. The popular demand for bespoke clothing from high-profile clients increased the label’s publicity and consequently their export sales.

The label expanded to become Bellville Sassoon Lorcan Mullany when the Irish designer joined in 1987. Now in charge of running the company, Lorcan Mullany continued to develop the ready-to-wear business and the fashion house’s long-standing connection with Vogue patterns.

Celia Joicey, Head of Fashion and Textile Museum, says: “Bellville Sassoon’s designs epitomise high-society glamour. Bellville Sassoon reinvented British couture in the second half of the 20th century, and their designs wonderfully evoke a world of debutantes, socialites, weddings and royal celebrity.”

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Model Nena du Bois wears a romantic off-the-shoulder ballgown in silk tulle from one of the earliest Bellville shows. Courtesy of David Sassoon

Supported by Newham College of Further Education, the exhibition runs from 20 September 2013 – 11 January 2014. Other events in the programme include a discussion on the resurgence of bespoke tailoring and dressmaking, plus an opportunity to learn the craft techniques of Bellville Sassoon’s workrooms.


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