Terry De Havilland at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace‘s upcoming blockbuster exhibition, which opens on March 23, has gathered together a staggering line-up of world-class designers, fashion houses, and labels to feature in Icons of British Fashion.

Barbour, Bruce Oldfield, Jean Muir, Lulu Guinness, Stella McCartney, Stephen Jones Millinery for Christian Dior, Temperley London, Terry de Havilland, Turnbull & Asser, Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes…. the designer names keep rolling in.

Icons of British Fashion at Blenheim Palace

Celebrating fashion from the past through to the present day in Blenheim’s biggest in-house exhibition to date, it features bespoke designs and loans from a Who’s Who of the fashion world.

icons of british fashion is Blenheim’s biggest in-house exhibition to date

Kate Ballenger, Keeper of Palace and Collections, who curated the Icons of British Fashion exhibition, said: We are so honoured to be able to collaborate with the best of British Fashion design and celebrate the incredible creativity within the fashion industry.

Alice Temperley

“It means that visitors can expect the creative curation of clothing, accessories, drawings, photography and archival materials, displayed amongst the priceless Blenheim collection in a fresh and engaging way,” Kate explains.

So why Blenheim and why now? “Blenheim Palace has a rich fashion history. We have hosted fashion shows, photo shoots and many designers have been guests of the family over the years.”


“Christian Dior hosted two shows here in 1954 and 1958 in aid of the Red Cross, and then returned in 2016 for their Cruise Collection. Cecil Beaton has done shoots with the family and we have been the location of many brand campaigns over the years.

‘These designers are some of the most talented and iconic in the world’

“And while Blenheim has traditionally done either historical exhibitions or contemporary art, I have always been a lover of fashion, and the recent surge in the popularity of fashion exhibitions allowed me to convince our Trustees it was time to celebrate the incredible designers in Great Britain,” she adds.

Zandra Rhodes

“Blenheim is an iconic British location and to be able to celebrate iconic British designers here seemed like a natural pairing. So we are incredibly excited to finally unveil what’s been years in the making; this exhibition will give visitors an insight into the fascinating world of British fashion in such a unique setting.”

‘we are incredibly excited to finally unveil what’s been years in the making’

12 months in the making, Kate admits that “the concept of the exhibition has been in my head for many years, and are so grateful that these amazing designers all agreed to support the exhibition.

Tim Curry wearing Terry De Havilland shoes

“From the moment we first approached them, the level of engagement and enthusiasm from each designer or brand has been incredible.

“These designers are some of the most talented and iconic in the world – so it was not a difficult decision. Their contribution to British Fashion is undeniable. It has however been wonderful to see how supportive they are of each other.”

Stella McCartney also features

So does the exhibition flow through the palace? “Each designer was encouraged to visit the Palace and chose a room they felt inspired by. We had an egalitarian approach of ‘first come, first served’ and it has fortunately worked out perfectly – they have all made themselves at home in their space,” Kate says.

‘visitors will be surprised by the talent and creative genius of the British Fashion industry’

So Kate must be delighted with the results? “I believe visitors will be surprised by the talent and creative genius of the British fashion industry, but also the workmanship, quality and sheer magic that goes into creating each piece,” she says.

Vivienne Westwood designs

“The workmanship and creativity that goes into each and every item definitely deserves closer inspection – they are truly works of art, so it was incredibly difficult to pick just one piece from each designer. They are all exceptional.”

Blenheim Palace will also be celebrating its own icon of fashion, Sir Winston Churchill, during the exhibition which coincides with the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Milliner Stephen Jones

“Winston Churchill was very much a man of occasion and had a particular sense of style. From his immaculate pin striped suits, bow ties, wonderful hats, to his ‘invention’ of the siren suit with Turnbull & Asser, fashion was a projection of his larger-than-life personality and was used to evoke confidence,” Kate explains.

“Turnbull & Asser will be celebrating his style in the exhibition with the loan of his iconic green velvet siren suit and there will be a few other surprises too,” she promises.

Designer Bruce Oldfield

For more information about Icons of British Fashion which runs from Saturday March 23 – Sunday June 30 visit,  www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/icons-of-british-fashion/ and to book tickets to Blenheim Palace visit, blenheimpalace.com/tickets-booking/