House Style exhibition at Chatsworth – a must see!

House Style exhibition at Chatsworth – a must see!

Two of the cafe staff, men in white with black hats and aprons are carrying a sign for the House Style Exhibition

The House Style exhibition, sponsored by Gucci,  is the largest exhibition ever hosted at Chatsworth.  The idea was conceived by Laura Burlington – daughter in law to the current Duke and Duchess.  Whilst searching for a christening gown she discovered a treasure trove of costumes in the Chatsworth textile department.

As we had read so much publicity, we had to be among the first visitors to the House Style exhibition.  It was a gloriously sunny morning and the first day of the season for Chatsworth. Whilst having a coffee at the stable cafe we met these smiley lads putting a final sign in place. Then we joined the queue where the Duke and Duchess were welcoming guests.  All part of the personal and friendly approach that Chatsworth exudes.

Breathtaking displays in situ…

The rear view of a display of some 5 wedding dresses on mannequins in the Chatsworth Chapel

What’s so special is that the items are on display throughout the house.  As a result, the juxtaposition of the displays and their surroundings is key.  And, due to the artful and painstaking design of each display the result is simply stunning.

John Galliano marquise marquee ball gown dress with the famous painting of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire as 'Cynthia', in the background

This John Galliano marquise masquee ball gown is wonderfully positioned.  Perfectly at home against the soft, sea green wall paper and in front of the iconic painting of the Duchess of Fashion herself – Georgiana of Devonshire as ‘Cynthia’.

Mannequins on display in the crimson Chatsworth dining room, dressed in various shades of pinks and reds evening dresses to match

Everything is beautifully off-set and co-ordinated with the exquisite Chatsworth interiors. These fashionable young things, in shades of red and pink, are ready to sit down to dinner in the crimson Chatsworth dining room.

House style through fashion designers and hats galore…

A gold full length gown from the rear, tightly fitted bodice, skirt with a rear central pleat, on a black mannequin, head not in view


An amazing creation of small white paper flower buds covering the top and cascading down at the back in long trellises. From the House Style Exhibition at Chatsworth 2017 labelled: Madame Vernier Hat, silk grosgrain paper 1965

A lilac grey plain trouser suit with generous lapels with a cream corset with a lilac floral pattern.

Many famous fashion designer’s outfits are on display along with some incredible hats!

Overall, it’s an intimate insight…

A pen sketch of a floaty, full length dress wth fitted bodice. On the left is written "To Debs" with a big X

A hand written label saying: "A sketch by Hubert de Givenchy with a suggestion for adapting a 1960s Balenziaga dress for later use c 1980

We warmed to the little touches – the hand-written labels and the personal anecdotes from the friendly tour guides.  These, together with the iconic outfits of their day, bring the personalities to life.

Each photo, fountain-penned description or costume tells a story – sets a scene, in a place in time, in your mind. And consequently you are given an insider’s sense of belonging and a glimpse into some poignant moments in their lives – both celebrations and personal tragedies.

… and a testament to the women of Chatsworth

It is a celebration of the lives of some distinguished Devonshire women through their house style – or fashion.  Cleverly covering five centuries of fashion from Bess of Hardwick, Georgiana, Deborah Mitford, Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy, Adele Astaire, Stella Tennant and the current Duchess – to name a few.

And whilst naturally, it’s the women who are front of house, Andrew Devonshire’s jumpers are a fun exhibit.  The sixteen jumpers bear the names of mottos and racehorses and were certainly drawing the crowds.

Two navy blue jumpers with hand knitted logos. One says " Life's a bitch and then you die" the other " All passion spent"

A hand written label saying " These sixteen navy blue woollen jumpers come from a collection of many more which belonged to Andrew Devonshire, some bare mottos, others the names of favourite race horses and some with hiking an travel destinations

Thank you Chatsworth for treating us to such an excellent exhibition.

Opening & Entry 

The House Style exhibition at Chatsworth, Derbyshire is running until 22nd October 2017.

Free with house entry.  There is a 50% refund at the door if you have an Art Fund pass.

​For full details visit

Darley House 

Darley House shares a special connection with Chatsworth.  Joseph Paxton, Head Gardener at Chatsworth, bought Darley House for his daughter in the mid 19th century and landscaped the gardens.  It is the perfect place for large family groups to stay for a visit to the House Style exhibition or the new RHS Flower Show at Chatsworth 7 – 11 June 2017 .

Luxury self catering, 15 mins drive from Chatsworth. For full information and availability visit

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