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Chatsworth House is having a fashion moment. The residence of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire has recently entered the style spotlight, serving as the backdrop for Gucci’s SS17 Resort campaign, after creative director Alessandro Michele showed the Britannia-fuelled collection at Westminster Abbey. But Chatsworth’s style history goes back way further than that – as told in a new exhibition at the stately home. 

‘House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth’ journeys through 500 years of fashion, showcasing hundreds of couture pieces, jewels and antiques that belonged to cross-generational style icons who occupied the house. Curated by Hamish Bowles and the creative duo formed by Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda, the exhibition is sponsored by Gucci, as part of the luxury house’s three year plan to support cultural events there.

The alignment makes sense: Alessandro Michele has always been attracted by British’ traditions, history and charm. This fascination framed the Britannia-fuelled Resort collection, and runs through ‘House Style’, Michele having designed two special creations inspired by the Devonshire Collection for the occasion. 

Since 1553, Chatsworth House has played host to influential and captivating personalities, whose pieces are on display in the exhibition. Think Fred Astaire’s sister, Adele; John F Kennedy’s sister Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy; “Empress of Fashion” Georgiana, whose passion for fabrics, shoes and extravagant hats was infamous in the 18th century; and Deborah Devonshire, who was muse to Oscar De La Renta, and whose close friend Hubert de Givenchy designed her shopping baskets. Casual.

Organised by theme, the exhibition circles through traditions and transgressions, from 19th-century fancy-dress costumes and the family’s coronation and wedding gowns to punk-inspired dresses worn by model Stella Tennant, granddaughter of Andrew Cavendish. ‘Circle of Life’ explores the genesis and different tastes of the Devonshire family women, like Duchess Georgiana, whose legacy inspired John Galliano in the 80s and Keira Knightley’s role in The Duchess (2008). The exhibition also traces the influence the house has had on the fashion world itself, featuring items from Jean-Phillipe Worth and Christian Dior couture, as well as Gucci, Maison Margiela, Vetements, Christopher Kane and Erdem.

The exhibition culminates in The State Drawing Room where seven gowns from the House Ball, held in 1897, are showcased for the first time since, among original furniture of the Devonshire House.

‘House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth’ runs from the 25th of March to the 22nd of October.

Gallery: Gucci Resort 2017