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See the V&A's most beautiful ballgowns

vanda-ballgowns.jpg

Happily, 2012 is shaping up to be a bumper year for fashion exhibitions.

Following the enormous success of Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a whole host of museums have decided to fill their halls with fashion history, from the Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs retrospective at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, to Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada at New York's Costume Institute.

But if you can't quite stump up the airfare/Eurostar ticket in the name of fashion, you'll be pleased to know there are some equally stylish exhibitions heading to UK shores.

The show we're most excited about comes courtesy of the V&A (one of our favourite places to spend a Sunday afternoon): Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950. Featuring more than 60 ballgowns from 1950 to the present day, and housed in the V&A's newly renovated fashion galleries, the show will celebrate the very British tradition of creating elegant eveningwear.

You'll have to wait until May for the exhibition to open, but we've already had a sneak peek at some of the dresses that will be on display - and predict it will be the fashion blockbuster of the season. Scroll down to see them a few months early.

The show will feature dresses designed exclusively for the Royal Family, including Princess Diana’s ‘Elvis Dress’ designed by Catherine Walker (pictured above) and gowns worn by today’s royals.

Expect to lust after unbelievably opulent frocks made for the red carpet, plus catwalk designs such as this dress by Erdem (pictured above), and Alexander McQueen (pictured below). Avant-garde designer Gareth Pugh has even created a metallic leather dress especially for the exhibition.

BELOW: An evening gown designed by Worth London. Known as 'the Father of Haute couture', Charles Worth was a prolific English fashion designer of the 19th century, whose house continued to flourish after his death.

All images: catwalking.com, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Victor Edelstein, 1986, ©David Hughes

Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950, sponsored by Coutts, runs at the V&A from 19 May 2012 - 6 January 2013

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