ACTIVITIES29 April 2024

Icons of British fashion at Blenheim

WORDS BY Katie Jarvis

Loved the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the V&A? (We certainly did!) Or maybe you’re still waiting for tickets to become available… (Best of British, as they say.)

Don’t despair: we’ve got just the thing. Read on for another fabulous fashion event here in the Cotswolds. (Plus, we’ve found you three very different iconic designers the Cotswolds can call its own.)

Icons of British Fashion exhibition: Until 30th June 2024

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock OX20 1PY

World-class designers, fashion houses and labels feature in a fabulous new exhibition (Blenheim Palace’s biggest to date), celebrating fashion past and right up to the present day.

Confirmed names include:


Bruce Oldfield

Jean Muir

Lulu Guinness

Stella McCartney

Stephen Jones Millinery for Christian Dior

Temperley London

Terry de Havilland

Turnbull & Asser

Vivienne Westwood

Zandra Rhodes


Each room in the palace along the visitor-route pays homage to a British fashion icon, in the form of a fabulously bright, stylish and stunning archive of clothing, accessories, drawings, photography, and patterns. (Plus, there are the priceless Blenheim collections seamlessly woven in, all for your delectation.)

Blenheim Palace in Woodstock – tucked into the Oxfordshire Cotswolds – is a World Heritage Site, thanks to its imposing architecture and romantic parkland. But also, of course, courtesy of its role in British and international history.

Over the course of three centuries, it has welcomed through its doors some of the best-dressed glitterati the world has ever seen. To name but a few:

Sir Winston Churchill proposed to his elegant wife-to-be, Clementine Hozier, here in the summer of 1908. What’s more, Sylvester Stallone and his model-wife Jennifer Flavin actually tied the knot at the palace (after their request for the Sistine Chapel in Rome was vetoed by the Pope). And then there’s the perpetually suave Bond, 007: the palace provided a filming-location for Spectre (as well as the less sartorial but equally popular Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).

Blenheim Palace


You’ve seen the Cotswolds; you’ve eaten the Cotswolds; why not wear the Cotswolds, too!

Holland Cooper:

You really can’t go wrong with this quintessentially British fashion brand, the brainchild of Jade Holland Cooper, who lives in a Grade II house near Cheltenham with husband Julian Dunkerton (co-founder of Superdry, moreover). Jade’s collections feature clothes for every eventuality – from country walks to swanky Cheltenham Races. Fans include Zara Tindall, Peter Phillips and the Duchess of Cambridge. If you didn’t realise that Wellington boots or country tweed could be top dollar, think again.

Holland Cooper Boutique, Cotswold House, The Barlands, London Road, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham GL52 6UT.

Holland Cooper


Stella McCartney:

Stella boasts another array of celebrity fans for her glam creations. Although the brand is looking at new ways of creating silk, they’ve never used leather, feathers, fur or skins, and only source from committed animal-welfare farms.

Her store might be in Old Bond Street, London, but we reckon much of Stella’s inspiration must come from living in a gorgeous mansion near Pershore. With Kate Moss not too far down the road (a friend and ‘face’ of her collections), this area has enough fashion cachet to give Mayfair a run for its money.

Stella McCartney


Cath Kidston:

Just about everybody knows and loves the Cath Kidston brand – surely; but not everybody is familiar with her rambling, hilltop mansion in the wilds of Gloucestershire. You can peep inside, though, thanks to a book she published featuring photographs of her envy-making home.

Yes, we’ve moved slightly away from fashion to home décor – but, honestly, it’s worth it. A Place Called Home shows exactly what can be done to marry traditional with innovative: you can see Cath’s kitchen (once a chapel); the dining room with table specially built to be strong enough for dogs to walk on (we approve); and even the ‘junk shop mix’ telly room.

(Don’t miss out on Cotswold auction rooms, if you want to recreate this look, such as at Wotton-under-Edge, near Stroud, where the bargains are legion:

Wotton Auction rooms


Photo: Pete Seaward