Who wears ballgowns anymore? Wedding dresses continue to be extravagant, even prom dresses are formal, but these works of fashion art hardly exist in our contemporary world outside of the red carpet or a museum.
The V&A museum in London's upcoming exhibit, "Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950" looks back at this phenomenon, exploring how exactly ballgowns have changed in the past 60 years. Opening May 19th, the exhibit features dresses worn by the British royal family, including the Norman Hartnell number Queen Elizabeth II wore to her coronation in 1953 and the Catherine Walker "Elvis dress" Princess Diana wore in 1989. The collection includes contemporary pieces as well, such as those worn by Kate Middleton, Beyonce and Daphne Guinness and designed by Giles Deacon, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Gareth Pugh and more.
Is this contemporary section to prove that ballgown culture has not disappeared, or is it merely to attract a younger group of visitors? In an accompanying book, which features artful, moody photographs of the ballgowns by David Hughes, curator Sonnet Stanfill explains how differently ballgowns are used in contemporary society, comparing today's red carpet to formal coming-out parties of the past, "Today it is the red carpet that acts as the most important site of fashion splendor."
How do these contemporary pieces hold up when exhibited next to their older counter parts? Take a peek in our gallery below for a preview of the dresses in the exhibit. Which is your favorite?