a historic royal palaces symbol. White writing on red background. A white embroidered Georgian Dress

Kensington Palace: Crown to Couture

Guinea gold logo on purple background

Emma Westwood

Guinea Team Blogger

Haute Couture and History Collide in this Majestic collection of clothing

Here at Guinea, it is rather obvious to say we are fans of fashion and when fashion and Royalty, both Hollywood and British, combine - well we are not going to miss the opportunity to see that! Which is why, I headed up to London to go see Kensington Palace’s Crown to Couture exhibition for myself.



Not only is the setting of the historic palace stunning, but the first sight that welcomes you in the exhibition, is the world famous Silver Tissue Dress, a dress we not only know the history of, but a rare complete example of seventeenth century fashion. Rarely do bodice’s and skirts of this age survive as an intact garment. Why? Because even our ancestors didn’t believe in fast fashion. Quality fabric was expensive, so it was reused, repurposed and recycled. A gown would be unpicked and recut in the latest style for the owner, when of no further use to them, it would be passed on to a child or relative, before ending its life as upholstery. Don’t think this didn’t apply to royalty, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s gown’s was discovered repurposed as an alter cloth. Who knew the Tudors were into sustainability?


And speaking of royalty, beside this gown is displayed a dress worn by Hollywood royalty, and style icon, Audrey Hepburn. Designed by multi Oscar winner, Edith Head (one of her Oscar’s is displayed with it) this dress was originally used in the film Roman Holiday, before the bodice was altered by Givenchy for Ms Hepburn to wear to collect her Oscar for her performance in Roman Holiday. This off white, lace dress, is so classic in style it could be worn today without seeming dated.



As you can undoubtedly tell, I could be in raptures, describing each piece in detail, but that would spoil your discovery of the exhibition for yourself, but this display sets the tone for the entire exhibition. Each room takes you through the stages of a fabulous gala evening; from getting ready, to arrival on the red carpet, before concluding with the after party. Each garment or item, has a fascinating tale to tell, whether it is in its construction, the message it is conveying, or its history.



Court dress fit for an audience with a king or queen, mingles with garments for modern royalty, such as Beyonce, whose gold gown is resplendently displayed against a backdrop of sumptuous red in the Presence Chamber. While at the top of the impressive King’s Staircase, is displayed the most frothy confection of a tulle gown by Giambattista Valli.



Each room is a delight but the decadence of the displays in the King’s Gallery and the Queens’s Gallery are truly breathtaking. The craftmanship both past and present is absolutely astonishing, but before you leave the exhibition and enter the apartments once lived in by Queen Victoria, you are enveloped in a room of darkness and dazzled by the diamonds of tiaras belonging to Royalty of the past. One cannot help but be enthralled and drawn like a moth to an extremely sparkling flame.



This is a curation of costumes unlike any I have ever seen, as haute couture and history collide in this majestic collection of clothing.


To book tickets. Click Here. Want a tour out of hours? Then Cick Here.

Kensington Palace Crown to Couture Exhition. Runs until 29th October 2023

Other Kensington Palace Highlights

If the weather is favourable take a walk around the Sunken Garden, featuring the Diana statue, or why not indulge in a decadent Crown to Couture Afternoon Tea in the Kensington Palace Pavilion. Click here to make your booking.


With so much to see and do, remember don't forget the gift shop!

Making a weekend of it?

While in the area, the V&A have their own exhibition, DIVA, displaying outfits from iconic performers. The scale is not as large as that of Crown to Couture, and has a focus more directed towards the music industry, but is a beautifully put together exhibit. Runs until 7th April 2024.


If you have time while in the V&A and wish to salivate more exquisite precious stones, head to the jewellery displays, you won’t be disappointed, just envious of the collection!


No firm plans for the evening, then why not check out the Royal Albert Hall for events. First Night of the Proms begins Friday 14th July 2023. Click here to see their What's On page.