Advertisement

Look of the Week: Courtney Love is a punk princess at London’s National Portrait Gallery

Editor’s Note: Featuring the good, the bad and the ugly, ‘Look of the Week’ is a regular series dedicated to unpacking the most talked about outfit of the last seven days.

On Tuesday, a starry guestlist poured into the regal halls of London’s National Portrait Gallery for the museum’s first fundraising Gala since its hefty three-year remodel completed in 2023. Against the backdrop of 1700s portraiture, former British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, artist Tracey Emin and Dame Kristen Scott Thomas (now a Miu Miu catwalk model as well as a BAFTA Award-winning actor) were snapped in their frocks and tuxedos, adhering to a dress code of “glamour.”

With many attendees from the upper echelons of the British creative scene choosing to champion homegrown labels — Alexa Chung wore Erdem, TV presenter Maya Jama opted for a satin, off-the-shoulder Vivienne Westwood number — one could imagine a born-and-bred Californian could feel daunted. But Hole singer Courtney Love certainly got the memo. Straying from the London Fashion Week mainstays, Love instead chose to revive a name from fashion history — and arrived in the biggest (and arguably the best) gown of the evening.

The gown was inspired by Marie Antoinette and customized for Love. - Dave Benett/Getty Images
The gown was inspired by Marie Antoinette and customized for Love. - Dave Benett/Getty Images

Dressed in a waterfall of gray silk duchess satin and black tulle, Love was the punk princess of St. Martin’s Place. And it was no wonder, considering the 18th-century inspired gown was the work of Elizabeth Emanuel, Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer.

The custom look was a variation on Emanuel’s “Marie Antoinette” frock which Love had spotted in last month’s copy of British high-society gossip magazine, Tatler. Originally designed in pale pink, Love’s version was fashioned out of a darker palette for more drama. Emanuel added crystal appliques at the waist, while the corset itself was boned and fastened with black lacing. Most captivating of all, perhaps, was the bustle skirt silhouette, hand-draped by Emanuel. “The effect was very grown up (yet) ‘Princess’ like,” she told CNN via email.

Love was a DJ at the National Portrait Gallery's event. - Dave Benett/Getty Images
Love was a DJ at the National Portrait Gallery's event. - Dave Benett/Getty Images

Dress designer Emanuel rose to fame when she received the commission of a lifetime in 1981. The gown she created for Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles — a pearl-embellished, ivory taffeta dress complete with ‘80s puff sleeves and a 25-foot train — has since gone down in history as one of the most iconic moments in fashion. In June 2021, 40 years after it was worn down the aisle, the dress was exhibited at Diana’s former home in Kensington Palace.

Later in the evening, Love is photographed stepping behind the decks to DJ. An outstretched arm shows a torn tulle sleeve — snagged presumably while she was lost in the music. The  mark of a true people’s princess.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com