London Exhibitions: Ballgowns, Hollywood Costume, Valentino and Tim Walker.

 Phew, that's a long title! I thought it would be a great idea to visit four exhibitions in one day. Let me tell you now, it wasn't! I had a great time but it was so tiring and, even now (24 hours later), my shoulders feel like stone! 

I started at the Victoria & Albert museum and was greeted by this incredible Christmas tree. It was at least 12ft tall and just crammed with baubles, candy canes, lollipops and all things Christmassy!
I'd booked tickets online for Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 but, to my dismay, there were no tickets available for Hollywood Costume. Luckily, it turns out that if you get there around 10am, you can buy them at the box office so I managed to get one little solitary ticket. Phew!

Of course, there was no photography allowed within the exhibitions so I'll just have to describe them to you.

Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950
This exhibition was beautiful! So many amazing couture gowns from the past 60 years. They included classics such as Diana's Catherine Walker "Elvis" dress and Ossie Clark as well as more modern beauties by Alexander McQueen and Erdem. My favourite was a jaw-dropping latex fishtail gown by Atsuko Kudo that looked just like it was sewn of vintage lace. It was a wonderful exhibition.

Afterwards, I had a little bit of time to spare so I walked around the permanent exhibition where I was allowed to take photos.
Look how beautiful this Christian Dior set up is! I would do anything to have this in my wardrobe. Wait, it gets better!
Dior beaded shoes! Don't they look like they're made of sugar? Like something from a fairy tale!

Beautiful dresses from the 1920s and 1950s. 

Then it was time to head to Hollywood Costume. I was insanely excited about this one!

Hollywood Costume
Unfortunately, the badly-designed layout of this exhibition significantly hampered my enjoyment. It was so crowded and the first room was designed in a zig-zag configuration. This meant that there was barely any room in the "aisles" and we had no choice but to form a queue in order to see everything. There was a girl in front of me who wanted to sketch everything (which was explicitly forbidden, may I add!) so I was stuck behind her for ages until an opening appeared for me to squeeze through.

Thankfully, the two other rooms were a lot more spacious, but there was still no choice but to queue in order to see everything. I was in the exhibition for 2 hours! I'm sure you can imagine how I felt after essentially queueing for two whole hours.

Having said that, the actual costumes on display were definitely worth it. I saw Jack Sparrow, Sweeney Todd, Charlie Chaplin, Scarlett O'Hara, Darth Vader, Black Swan and so many others. There were over a hundred costumes there, including Judy Garland's Dorothy dress and Marilyn Monroe's infamous white dress. It was so much more beautiful and intricate than it looks on screen.

It was also really informative. I had no idea that so much work went into costume design. I had a brief desire to be a costume designer when I was younger and it made me a little sad that I never went through with it!
After a brief sit down, I trekked over to Somerset House, weighed down by two exhibition books.

There were two exhibitions on- Valentino: Master of Couture and Tim Walker: Story Teller. The Tim Walker exhibition is free! 

Valentino: Master of Couture
As I arrived at Somerset House, I was greeted by this amazing huge Valentino flower:

How beautiful is that! It was such a great introduction to the exhibition. The layout was really interesting- It was a really long room, with chairs either side, designed to look like a fashion show. The dresses were either side of the catwalk so it felt as though I was the star of the show!

The 137 dresses- yes, 137!- were absolutely beautiful and so inspiring! I have a newfound desire to wear embellishment all the time. I mean, I've always loved embellishment but this has given me the push I need to go for it! 

At the end, we were shown samples of the trademark Valentino flourishes and videos of how they were created. Fascinating stuff!

Tim Walker: Story Teller
Unfortunately, by this point, I was exhausted and aching all over so I pretty much rushed right through this although, as it was free entry, I don't feel so bad. It was very interesting though. I'm a huge fan of Tim Walker's photography. The surreal props appeal to me so much, so it was amazing to see them up close.

The props are all huge! They have such an amazing scale and it's just incredible to think that so much work goes into creating these beautiful images. The show-stopper was most definitely the 12ft ringletted dolly. Adorable. I want one in my living room! 

I had such an amazing day. Exhausting, admittedly, but fantastic nonetheless. Plus, I've scratched four exhibitions off my to-see list! 


  1. That all sounds really fun, but totally exhausting! I am always suprised how tired I get just going round one, let alone four exhibitions! I adore that 50's ballgown though!

    Love, Lauren xox

    1. I know! It seemed such a good idea when I booked the tickets!

  2. I saw the Ballgowns exhibit too, and was likewise drawn in by the Christian Dior display ^_^ xoxo

  3. thank you for the kind comment on my blog- crown and glory turbans are fantastic (as is everything).
    I went too see Tim Walkers exposition and loved it but I had the same annoyance as you did at the Hollywood costume expo- a girl kept standing between me and the amazing art sketching :(
    I really want to go to the Hollywood and ball gowns expos Im going to try to book tickets when me and the boyfriend both have time off (he would love the Hollywood one)

    1. It's so annoying when that happens! Why can't they just stand somewhere out of everybody's way?

      I hope you get to see the V&A exhibitions!

  4. That's a lot to pack in- blimey! I went to the Vivienne Westwood retrospective at the V&A many moons ago now - parts of that were really cramped too. It makes me wonder why they don't think about this more- especially as you have to pay and then get rounded up like cattle.
    I do love the V&A though - the best museum shop in London in my opinion.

  5. I need to go to ALL of these! I always end up missing exhibitions that I want to go to, but I've got no excuse now that I live nearer London and have friends there.... Hope they're on for a little while longer so I have time to sort myself out and go! xxx

  6. Wow, I am so jealous! That sounds like and awesome (but tiring) day. I want to be a curator at some point, and working with exhibits like that is my dream. I absolutely loved the costume museum in Bath, have you been there?

  7. Wow that's lots to do, what an inspiring day though! I've been to Tim Walker which was AMAZING, I really should try to get to the others to xx

  8. The Valentino exhibition sounds fabulous!

  9. Ooooo. Wish I was there to check out those exhibits!

  10. Ooh, I would have LOVED to see the Costume Design exhibit!! I have always dreamed of working in Hollywood, though there doesn't seem to be a clear path to get there, as a Canadian theatre designer! Some day, some day. I would have bloody peaked in such an exhibit, though!
    Glad you got to see so many inspiring things, even if it was clearly a very tiring day!! Too much time on your feet for my liking, haha!


  11. Wow that looks great I would have loved as well to be there.

    What do you think about my latest vintage dress?


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