Missed out on scoring tickets to the V&A’s Coco Chanel exhibition? Don’t fret.

While the museum’s blockbuster show sold out its entire run just four days after opening, it’s not the only fashion spectacular worth checking out in London this fall.

From red-carpet glamor to Black British trailblazers to never-before-seen vintage Gucci, the city currently boasts a dazzling array of exhibitions catering to design lovers. Here are five of the best to visit right now.

“Crown to Couture” shows how fashion from the royal Georgian court has inspired red-carpet looks today © Historic Royal Palaces

Be wowed by British and Hollywood royalty

Crown to Couture, at Kensington Palace until October 29

There are just a few weeks left to catch the Crown to Couture exhibition at Kensington Palace, which closes on October 29. The lavish State Apartments play host to more than 200 items in a sprawling display that compare the rituals of courtly dress with the red carpet of today. 

Kim Kardashian’s Skims shapewear sits next to an 18th-century corset, while elaborate Georgian ensembles are paired with modern looks such as Billy Porter’s glistening “Sun God” outfit created by The Blonds for the 2019 Met Gala. Katy Perry’s sparkling Moschino chandelier dress from the same event is posed underneath four shining examples in the King’s Drawing Room, while Beyoncé’s gold Peter Dundas gown from the 2017 Grammys is flanked by royal guards’ uniforms in the gilded King’s Presence Chamber. 

The exhibition concludes with a selection of contemporary looks inspired by historic designs from Britain and France, including eye-catching creations from Jean Paul Gaultier, Simone Rocha and Erdem.

Erica Davletov views a piece by Ninivah Khomo ahead of the opening of ‘The Morgan Stanley Exhibition - The Missing Thread: Untold Stories of Black British Fashion’ at Somerset House, London
“The Missing Thread” explores 50 years of Black British fashion © David Parry / PA Wire

Discover the untold stories of Black British fashion

The Missing Thread, at Somerset House until January 7

Somerset House celebrates 50 years of Black creativity in Britain with an exhibition delving into how the community has shaped mainstream fashion. The Missing Thread is divided into four sections: Home, Tailoring, Performance and Nightlife, all of which explore the evolution of Black British clothing, music, photography and art against a backdrop of political turmoil and cultural shifts.

Highlights include the England football kit created by Savile Row tailor Charlie Allen in 2009; Givenchy menswear by Ozwald Boateng, the first Black designer to head a French fashion house; and the red Bruce Oldfield evening dress worn by Princess Diana during a state visit to Saudi Arabia in 1986.

The final room showcases the 40-year career of Joe Casely-Hayford, the pioneering designer and tailor who died in 2019.

“Rebel” traces three decades of wild looks from designers who participated in the British Fashion Council’s NewGen program © Andy Stagg / studiostagg

Rip up the rulebook with rebellious young talent

Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion, at the Design Museum until February 11

The Design Museum in West London is marking three decades of the British Fashion Council’s NewGen program, which has supported more than 300 emerging designers. 

Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion features nearly 100 looks, among them Marjan Pejoski’s notorious “swan” dress, worn by Björk to the 2001 Oscars; the floral SS Daley trousers Harry Styles sported in his video for “Golden”; and Sam Smith’s eye-popping inflatable latex suit from this year’s BRIT awards, made by HARRI. 

Guests can hear the stories behind early works by Alexander McQueen before taking a front-row seat for the exhibition’s catwalk display, lined with Christopher Kane’s shocking neon minidresses, Wales Bonner’s embellished tailoring and JW Anderson’s ruffled hot pants for men. 

Learn how Jewish Londoners influenced our wardrobes

Fashion City, at Museum of London Docklands until April 14 

The Museum of London Docklands is turning a spotlight on the contributions of Jewish designers, makers and retailers in cementing the city as a fashion capital. 

Opening October 13, Fashion City will begin with a section representing the East End, where many Jewish migrants settled between the late 19th and mid-20th century. More than half of them would go on to work in the clothing and textile trade, transforming the area into a manufacturing hub for everything from handbags to umbrellas. 

From there, the exhibition will explore Jewish tailoring and the couture salons of the West End, displaying the red David Sassoon coat Princess Diana wore on the day she announced she was pregnant with Prince William, and stunning hats by milliner Otto Lucas, which appeared on the cover of British Vogue. There will also be a recreation of a Swinging Sixties Carnaby St boutique, featuring garments by Mr Fish, whose revolutionary, genderfluid menswear was worn by David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger.

A display from the “Gucci Cosmos” exhibition
A new exhibition at 180 Studios immerses visitors in the world of Gucci © courtesy Gucci COSMOS

Immerse yourself in 100 years of Gucci

Gucci Cosmos, at 180 Studios until December 31

First presented in Shanghai earlier this year, the Gucci Cosmos exhibition now comes to London’s 180 Studios, with the addition of never-before-seen items from the luxury brand’s archive and a set redesign by British artist Es Devlin that pays homage to the city. 

It was here that founder Guccio Gucci was inspired to establish his artisanal luggage atelier in 1921, after his experience working as a porter at the Savoy Hotel. The show features one of his earliest suitcases alongside signature styles from the 1960s and 2020s. 

The immersive installation will bring visitors through the decades of the Italian fashion house, telling the story of Gucci in distinct themes, from its ties to the equestrian world to its most iconic handbags to its unisex designs, including striking archival looks by former creative directors Tom Ford, Frida Giannini and Alessandro Michele. With select dates already running low on tickets, book ahead to avoid disappointment.

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