Royal Style in the Making

The Must-See Fashion Exhibitions of 2021

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Princess Diana's wedding dress will feature in a new exhibition at Kensington Palace this summer

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Fashion exhibitions were hit hard in 2020. The long-awaited Bags at The V&A, a retrospective dedicated to fashion’s best-loved accessory, experienced its fair share of closures, whilst the Fashion Museum Bath’s Shoephoria! was forced to postpone its showcase of over 3,000 pairs of shoes for an entire year. The good news? As the UK’s lockdown restrictions lift, museums and galleries are getting ready to open their doors to an exciting array of exhibitions. These are the ones not to miss.

Please note that exhibition dates are subject to change.

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The Must-See Fashion Exhibitions of 2021


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  • Royal Style in the Making

    Royal Style in the Making

    All eyes will be set on Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding gown at a new exhibition taking place at Kensington Palace this June. Alongside the world-renowned silk taffeta dress will feature an array of garments formerly worn by royalty, including the unique coronation gown toile worn by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in 1937 and designed by Madame Handley-Seymour. Exhibition curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, Matthew Storey said: ‘Our summer exhibition at Kensington Palace will shine a spotlight on some of the greatest talents of British design, whose work has been instrumental in shaping the visual identity of the royal family across the twentieth century.’ Opens 3 June.

    Image: Wedding gown of Diana, Princess of Wales © Royal Collection Trust All Rights Reserved

  • Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

    Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

    Enter into the fantastical world of Alice in Wonderland and explore the iconic story’s influential 158-year-old history; its origins, evolution and impact on film, fashion, photography, and more. Expect an array of fascinating and whimsical exhibition highlights, from stage costumes and Iris van Herpen designs to Annie Leibovitz and Tim Walker photography. Visitors will also catch sight of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript and fantastic illustrations from John Tenniel, Ralph Steadman and Disney. A wholly eccentric exhibition, the V&A will be the first museum ever to delve headfirst into the evolution of Alice and her long-established cultural influence. Opens 22 May 2021.

    Image: Viktor&Rolf Haute Couture AutumnWinter 2016 – Vagabonds. Peter Stigter. 

  • Lee Miller Self Portrait with sphinxes

    Lee Miller: Fashion in Wartime Britain

    Farleys House & Gallery’s spring exhibition will take an in-depth look at Lee Miller’s fashion photography captured during the Second World War. Over 60 of the American surrealist photographer, model and war correspondent’s wartime works (predominantly shot for British Vogue) will be showcased, alongside the launch of a brand-new coffee table book comprising over 100 archived images. Spanning factory wear to designer garments from the likes of Norman Hartnell and Bianca Mosca, whose designs came to the fore throughout the 1940s, the retrospective will shed a compelling light on wartime fashion trends and how Miller’s photography so creatively encapsulated these. 20 May – 8 August 2021.

    Image: Lee Miller, Self Portrait with sphinxes. © Lee Miller Archives, England 2020. All rights reserved.

  • Chintz: Cotton in Bloom

    Chintz: Cotton in Bloom

    The Fashion and Textile Museum is set to host a compelling exhibition dedicated to chintz, the once intricate art of printing pattern on cotton fabric. The unique showcase will explore 150 chintz pieces from different centuries across the globe – think bold colours, vintage florals, exquisite period dresses and more. 18 May – 15 August 2021.

    Image: Detail of palempore. Cotton, painted and dyed using the chintz technique. India, 1700-1725. Fries Museum Leeuwarden. Photo Studio Noorderblik.

  • Shoephoria!


    Launching this spring, Shoephoria! will showcase a 100-piece collection of shoes and boots, exploring the fascinating history of shoemaking. From 17th century red velvet mules to a pair of Russian boots worn by artist and aristocrat Lady Ottoline Morrell, the unique exhibition will take spectators on a ‘shoephoric’ journey through time, from footwear designed for royalty to modern-day Converse and Nikes. Opens 18 May 2021.

  • Bags: Inside Out at the V&A

    Bags: Inside Out

    Do you often get teased about your ridiculously large bag collection? Well, prepare to rub this in everybody’s faces: bags are important, says the V&A, who has staged an entire exhibition about the accessory. From luggage to boxes, rucksacks to handbags, the museum will explore the history of the bag with a showcase of 300 bag-related items and artefacts dating from the 16th century onwards. Until 16 January 2022.


    Christian Dior: Designer Of Dreams

    If you didn’t get a chance to visit the spectacular Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at the V&A back in 2019, you can now experience the enchanting showcase from home. Dior has released an hour-long film available to watch for free via YouTube detailing the curation of the retrospective initially hosted at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, from the elaborate dress tailoring to the comprehensive exhibition construction and glamorous opening night. Watch now via the Christian Dior YouTube channel.

    Image: © Adrien-Dirand

  • Fashion & Textile Museum

    Beautiful People: The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture

    It was the mid 60s, and a small number of Chelsea boutiques reigned supreme, sparking a fashion revolution which, along with popular music, fuelled the cesspool of creativity and experimentation that came to define the decade. See fantastical pieces worn by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix in this exhibition, which features rare pieces from the iconic stores and designers like Ossie Clark, Biba and Thea Porter. 3 September 2021 – January 2022.

Featured image: Wedding gown of Diana, Princess of Wales © Royal Collection Trust All Rights Reserved

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