Fashion

Princess Margaret's Iconic 21st Birthday Gown Is Going on Display

The dress is part of the V&A Museum's new Dior exhibition.
IMAGE CECIL BEATON/VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM
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From iconic gowns to archive lipstick and perfume, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams features over 500 objects in what is the largest and most comprehensive Dior exhibition ever held in the UK. Staged at the V&A, the display traces the 71-year history of the fashion house, covering the impact of the couturier's 'New Look' to the work of the six artistic directors since Dior's death in 1957.

'The Ballroom' showcasing 70 years of stunning evening is particularly impressive, but there's another star of the show. A dress designed for Princess Margaret is a highlight from the 'Dior in Britain' section, which charts Dior's fascination with British culture.


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On loan from the Museum of London, the embroidered off-the-shoulder couture gown was designed for Margaret's 21st birthday party in 1951. She was also photographed by Cecil Beaton in it for her official birthday portrait and as Harper's Bazaar editor Justine Picardie has previously noted, the princess later described the style as "my favourite dress of all".


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The dress is beautiful to look at up close, but its inclusion also points to Dior's special relationship with the royal. The exhibition explains how the designer first met the young princess when she visited the Dior salon during her first European trip. In April 1950, a day after his first fashion show in Britain, Dior put on a special presentation for the Queen and her younger sister, along with Princess Marina, the Duchess of Kent and Princess Olga of Greece in London.


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Princess Margaret presents Christian Dior with a scroll entitling him to honorary life membership of the British Red Cross

According to the notes in the 'Dior in Britain' room, Dior was impressed by Margaret's style and described her as "so very charming". In 1954 and 1958, she was guest of honour at his Blenheim Palace fashion shows and in 1957, he presented his royal client with a signed silk scarf to show his appreciation of her continued support. The princess remained a loyal customer of the fashion house throughout her lifetime.


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In celebration of the history-making exhibition, our limited-edition February issue cover features the iconic portrait of Princess Margaret wearing her 21st birthday Dior dress, photographed by Cecil Beaton in 1951. Available to buy exclusively at the V&A Museum shop and online at vam.ac.uk.

From: Harper's BAZAAR UK

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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