Here at MSL, we have a silent alert for the name Sassoon. Back in 2012, we hosted a Semple Secrets event at the Southbank Centres grand Royal Festival Hall with legendary designers David Sassoon and Roland Klein, amongst others. Listening to them both speak about their organically brilliant careers, we sat in awe of these talented men; a fond attachment we have never let fade. So when we heard the Fashion and Textile Museum were displaying a retrospective exhibition of the brilliantly British label Bellville Sassoon, we were on our way over to Bermondsey Street before you could say “taxi please!”
Bellville Sassoon is the simplistic but harmonious joining of the two designers, Belinda Bellville and David Sassoon. Belinda founded the label in 1953, but soon renamed the high end brand after David joined the company in 1970. Together, their names would become synonymous with the Royal Family and in turn, an exemplary and iconic representation of British fashion.
The exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum creates a journey, starting with an introduction to David Sassoon and Belinda Bellville, and getting a taste for their glamorous lifestyles in the world of fashion. Black and white portrait shots of the two designers and candid fashion images take up the entirety of two walls and transmit you back to the 50s, 60s and 70s. The exhibition then opens up to demonstrate to the viewer how their partnership came together as if they were one to create a collection of stunning, intricate and frivolous evening wear dresses that span across decades of trends. As put by David himself, “the exhibition really shows the diversity in fashion over quite an extensive period.”
From the 1960s onwards, Belinda Bellville and David Sassoon established themselves as the go-to couture house for young, glamorous and exclusive couture designs. This is reinforced at the exhibition with the printed quotes on the walls from their contented customers. One of their most famous and returning clients epitomised the description of a Bellville Sassoon woman. Diana, Princess of Wales was a British rose, a fashion icon and a loyal customer to Bellville Sassoon. Separated from the rest of the exhibition, The Fashion and Textile Museum hosts an exclusive room dedicated to the work the label did for it’s royal clients, including Princess Margret, Princess Anne, Princess Alexandra, Princess Michael of Kent and of course, Princess Diana.
The royal room stunned me. If I’m honest, I could never have predicted exactly how much it stunned me. I was in pure awe of not only Bellville Sassoon’s craftsmanship, but the labels friendly and attentive relationship with one of the most significant women of my time. The room features the original drawings to many of Diana’s head-turning dresses, each with faded handwritten comments from the lady herself. “This but in pink”, “Yes please” and “This one please” are some of the comments you can see next to the sketched fashion drawings, which truly illustrate Diana’s engagement and interest in fashion, and her sharp sartorial eye.
We won’t give everything away about this exhibition, we will let you see for yourself. The exhibition is running from now until the 11th of January 2014, so pick a date and get lost in Bellville Sassoon’s world of couture glamour.
By Marni Banks