Royalty and Debutantes Circa 1958

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“You could tell I was no debutante” — the words Debbie Harry crooned and the source of inspiration for While I used the word debutante for my shop and blog in an ironic, I buy fab clothes (often used), have envious style and still have money in my pocketbook, sort of way, I can’t help but admire dreamy dresses worn by real debs of the past.

guestsweb.jpg © Desmond O'Neill Features

And apparently, Kensington Palace loves the debs too. Dresses worn by debutantes in 1958 are on display as part of an exhibition titled “The Last Debutantes”, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the last court presentations to the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
And of course couture abounds — stunning examples of couture dresses by Worth, Dior, Pierre Balmain and Jacques Heim are featured.

debutante dresses

debutante dresses

Credit: Richard Lea-Hair / NTI / HRP

But if living vicariously through gazing at beautiful frocks isn’t enough, the exhibition also offers a sample of the dizzying but glamorous life of a debutante by offering etiquette, dance and curtsey classes. God forbid you fall on your ass in front of the Queen.


Christian Dior dresses the lucky girl (left) and her lovely mother (right) too. And the former debutante, Margaret Chilton, is reunited with her Christian Dior evening gown that she wore at her coming out ball in 1958.

formerdebweb.jpg Credit: Richard Lea-Hair / NTI / HRP
vintage worth dress vintage Worth dress

If you happen to be in London, do check out the phenomenal display of couture and society living (it’s the closest I’ll ever get). And don’t fear — you have an entire year to check out the exhibition.
Where: Kensington Palace, London, 0844 482 7799 or book online at
When: Opens June 11 2008 until June 2009
Cost: adults £12.30, students/seniors £10.75, under 16s £6.15, under 5 FREE, family ticket (up to 2 adults and 3 children) £34.00
Admission to the exhibition is included in the Kensington Palace ticket price.

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1 Patti { 06.13.08 at 10:42 am }

Wow!- spectacular!! Will you be going Sandra?

2 Sandra { 06.15.08 at 8:13 am }

If I can find really cheap airfare, a trip across the pond would totally be possible. But as of now, no plans. However, one of my dear Vintage Fashion Guild members lives in the UK and is planning on going in July. So hopefully we can get a full report!

3 Zenys Boutique { 06.25.08 at 2:45 pm }

That would make the ultimate show room. I love it!

4 Kendall { 02.10.09 at 8:38 am }

Kensington Palace houses the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection and has loads more society dresses from the past stored away. At the moment another exhibition for summer 2010 is in works concerning royal symbols in contemporary fashion. It’s going to be a mix of contemporary fashion and old court and military dress. The final year fashion history and theory students at Central Saint Martin’s are currently working on an online project that explores these themes. The actual website launches later this week, but the associated blog has been running for a while. If you’re interested in how the sorts of society dresses from the Dear Debs exhibition work into modern fashion, you might enjoy it.

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