The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon
The Fashion Textile Museum is ready to run an exciting insight into Britain’s foremost high-society couture brand, Bellville Sassoon. The label has designed for some of the greatest and most stylish women in the world, including Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. The Upcoming was welcomed to a sneak preview and got to speak to one of its masterminds – David Sassoon.
Wandering through the showroom we were sucked back as far as the 50s as we perused some fabulous dresses commissioned by a number of the world’s most stylish women. The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon was beautifully arranged and classic tunes echoed throughout – effectively disclosing the fashion label’s story. Skipping from post-war years to Swinging Sixties to a new generation of celebrities craving stand-out clothing, all was revealed.
It was from the 1960s when David Sassoon and Belinda Bellville established themselves as the go-to couture house for young, glamorous and exclusive designs. The creative twosome built up a strong royal following as they dressed clients such as Princess Margaret, Princess Anne and Princess Diana. In 1987 they were joined by the talented Irish designer Lorcan Mullany, becoming Bellville Sassoon Lorcan. Mullany developed the ready-to-wear brand and continues to design for Vogue.
Arrays of mannequins were statued and draped in versatile designs. You didn’t even have to read the “DO NOT TOUCH” sign, as it was already clear we were in the presence of fashion heirlooms. It’s not often you get a chance to speak to a legendary designer, but David Sassoon was happy to chat. He led us across the room and pointed: “This is one of the earliest designs.” His finger directed us to a white organdie ball dress embroidered with lilies of the valley, and set with a green ribbon sash. Meandering onwards we crept through the eras. We were met by many fascinating pieces including a long, pale green satin evening dress with butterfly and floral embroidered corset bodice and straight satin skirt from 1998.
A visit to the royal room filled with dresses designed for the Royal Family was left for the final treat. Before we entered, David ushered us to a dress, which was designed for Camilla. He pointed out the dog detail on the back, which represented the Duchess’ love for dogs. Inside the room showcased some gowns including a dress that Diana wore. Bellville Sassoon created over 70 dresses for the Princess of Wales and it was fantastic to examine handwritten letters from her to David that outlined her design ideas. In another letter she gushed: “How terribly clever of you to draw the exact thing I wanted!….Everybody up here went wild about the long white dress!”
It is easy to see why Bellville Sassoon made such a fizzling impression over an elite crowd; the work expresses a rich history of fashion.
Photos: James Fox
The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon runs from the 20th September 2013 until 11th January 2014. Click here for more information.