House of STYLE
Lady Laura Burlington speaks to Marie Claire’s JOCELYN STIEBEL about discovering a trove of clothes spanning ve centuries of fashion and the Gucci-sponsored exhibition at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, England
It sounds like a tale from the storybooks, really. A stylish English countess rummages through the attic of her inlaw’s stately home in search of a christening robe for her son; there she uncovers a treasure trove of clothes representing ve centuries of fashion – from couture Dior to modern Lang.
That countess is Lady Laura Burlington, and the home in question is Chatsworth House, occupied by the current Duke Peregrine Andrew Cavendish and Duchess Amanda Heywood-Lonsdale of Devonshire: a 16th-century manor estate bought for £600 in 1549 by Sir William Cavendish and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. While a lot of Chatsworth’s original construction has changed beyond recognition since its early days, its lavish glamour remains the same and attracts streams of
House Style certainly doesn’t ignore the IMPORTANCE o f contemporary fashion
custom-made Elvis Presley slippers.
Equally peculiar to the slippers is the 11th Duke’s collection of custom-made, and rather up-to-date-with-current-runway-trends, slogan jerseys with the likes of ‘Never Marry a Mitford’ (he was married to one) and ‘Life’s a Bitch And Then You Die’ emblazoned on the front.
When asked about her favourite pieces on display, Lady Burlington is especially excited about the wedding dress of Stella Tennant – supermodel and granddaughter to Deborah. The unique Helmut Lang-designed gown was lost for 18 years, and thought to have been thrown away.
‘We were sad that we couldn’t include this astonishing avant-garde piece – until it was found packed away carefully underneath her mother’s wedding gown,’ says Lady Burlington.
Another of her stand-outs in House Style is the lm of Fred Astaire’s sister and long-time dance partner Adele Astaire, who gave up her dance career to marry the son of the 9th Duke of Devonshire, o cially becoming a Cavendish. The lm Lady Burlington refers to is The Heir and
Astaire made by T.J Wilcox 10 years ago but reworked for House Style to include newlydiscovered footage of Adele – the only material of its kind in the world.
‘We sent reels that were found in the basement of Chatsworth to London to be digitised and there was Adele, dancing in a tweed suit – the only moving images of her in existence!’
House Style certainly doesn’t ignore the importance of contemporary fashion, and this is where Gucci, sponsor of the exhibit, falls perfectly in place.
Creative director Alessandro Michele shot the brand’s 2017 cruise collection at Chatsworth House, and clearly something stuck with him. For the exhibition, and for Lady Burlington and her mother-in-law, he designed two dresses: inspired by Bess of Hardwick and the 17th-century etymology artist, Maria Sibylla Merian, respectively. Alessandro incorporated details of Chatsworth that inspired him, and that echo his AW17 collection, which Lady Burlington so loves.
‘All the work in the detailed layering, needlework, embroidery, owers, insects and snakes… The imagination is truly astonishing.’ It all sounds quite like a fairy tale.