Designs on Diana.

Princess of Wales meeting people in Twerton. ©Bath in Time

Outfits worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, will be the centrepiece of a new exhibition at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Fashion Museum; celebrating over 50 years of unique British fashion house Bellville Sassoon.

Bath Fashion Museum
“Fashion Museum, Bath & North East Somerset Council”

In 2011 British designer David Sassoon donated his archive of hundreds of fashion drawings from the 1950s to the 2000s to the Fashion Museum in Bath. This generous gift charts the history of the firm Bellville Sassoon as one of London’s top couturiers, and represents an unparalleled record of a life in fashion.

Twenty five choice evening dresses have been selected by Mr Sassoon, each one lovingly kept across the years by Bellville Sasson’s loyal clientele, and now borrowed back especially for the display which runs throughout this year.

Rosemary Harden, Manager of the Fashion Museum, said: “This special display at the Fashion Museum celebrates both the gift of the design archive to the museum, and the success of three extraordinary designers – Belinda Belville, David Sassoon, and Lorcan Mullany – who together have run this uniquely British fashion house for over 50 years.”

Original fashion drawing for the Going-away ensemble, 1981 Loaned to the Fashion Museum by David Sassoon
Original fashion drawing for the Going-away ensemble, 1981
Loaned to the Fashion Museum by David Sassoon. “Fashion Museum, Bath & North East Somerset Council”

The centrepiece of the display will be three ensembles designed by Bellville Sassoon for Diana, Princess of Wales, including the cantaloupe melon silk ‘going-away’ outfit that she wore as a young bride in July 1981.

Going away ensemble - cantaloupe melon-coloured silk tussore day dress, and short sleeved bolero jacket Worn by Diana, Princess of Wales on her wedding day on 29 July 1981 Tartan dress - dark green/ blue wool check with cream lace collar and cuffs Worn by Diana, Princess of Wales at the Braemar Highland Games in 1983 Loaned to the Fashion Museum by Their Royal Highnesses the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Henry of Wales
Going away ensemble – cantaloupe melon-coloured silk tussore day dress, and short sleeved bolero jacket
Worn by Diana, Princess of Wales on her wedding day on 29 July 1981
Tartan dress – dark green/ blue wool check with cream lace collar and cuffs
Worn by Diana, Princess of Wales at the Braemar Highland Games in 1983
Loaned to the Fashion Museum by Their Royal Highnesses the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Henry of Wales.
“Fashion Museum, Bath & North East Somerset Council”

Bellville Sassoon has designed clothes for a host of famous names including Jackie KennedyAudrey HepburnElizabeth TaylorMadonnaJerry HallHelen Mirren and Ivana Trump. David Sassoon’s designs have also appeared on the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Magazine.

David Sassoon said of the fashion house’s work: “We specialise in a very British brand of grand chic”, and the display will include the pink taffeta evening dress decorated with pleated frills worn by Lady Beatty at the Proust Edwardian Ball in 1971, as well as a steel blue satin embroidered dress from the late 1990s and a mocha silk embroidered dress, inspired by a Chinese shawl.

Fashion drawing for the tartan wool dress   Loaned to the Fashion Museum by David Sassoon
Fashion drawing for the tartan wool dress
Loaned to the Fashion Museum by David Sassoon. “Fashion Museum, Bath & North East Somerset Council”

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Bath & North East Somerset Council is keen to offer everyone the chance to enjoy a wide variety of culture and creativity. This exhibition is designed to appeal to all – from the fashion-conscious to fans of celebrity, or those with an interest in how styles have changed in the recent past.

“The Fashion Museum houses one of the world’s great museum collections of historic and fashionable dress. This unique archive of Belville Sassoon designs is a perfect example of why the Museum has been designated as having a collection of outstanding national significance.”

The Fashion Museum is open daily from 10.30am to 4pm (exit 5pm). For more information visitwww.fashionmuseum.co.uk or call 01225 477789.

Residents are reminded that as both the Fashion Museum and Roman Baths are managed by Bath & North East Somerset Council; entry is free all year round to local residents on production of a Discovery Card. To find out more visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/discoverycard, email discoverycard@bathnes.gov.uk or call 01225 477785.