Noël Coward: Art & Style at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery

Forever with her finger on the pulse. The Style Life’s contributing editor, Margaret Hussey reviews the new Noel Coward, Art & Style exhibition at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery. If you’ve not got any plans to jet off and visit Coward’s Jamaica home, FireFly, then this is the next best way to take a walk through Coward’s life.

Stylishly attired for travel, Noël Coward and his longtime production designer, Gladys Calthrop, depart Waterloo on the boat train bound for New York, 1936. Credit: Courtesy of The Cinema Museum

He was known for his wit and one-liners and now a major new exhibition looks at the lasting legacy of Noël Coward.

Noël Coward: Art & Style at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery celebrates his art, fashion and creativity which was way ahead of its time.

Exhibits include a meticulous reconstruction of the iconic white satin dress designed for Gertrude Lawrence for Private Lives in 1930, his sheet music, including an original page of his handwritten lyrics for Mad Dogs and Englishmen, as well as rare photos from productions, portraits, and fashion shoots.

Gertrude Lawrence and Noël Coward performing his sketch, “Rain Before Seven,” in the Charlot revue London Calling! (1923). Costumes by Edward Molyneux. Credit: Photo by James Abbe, Courtesy of The James Abbe Archive

It also features costumes and wardrobe items worn by Coward, including two of his signature silk dressing gowns, and items from his homes in England, Switzerland and Jamaica.

Coward worked with some of the finest couturiers and theatrical designers of his time, from Norman Hartnell to Cecil Beaton, Oliver Messel to long-time collaborator Gladys Calthrop. The exhibition features original vintage dresses, paintings as well as set and costume design sketches from his astonishing creative and influential circle. A must see. 

*Noël Coward: Art & Style at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery from June 14 until December 23. Entry is free. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/noelcoward

By contributing editor: Margaret Hussey

Feature image: Stylishly attired for travel, Noël Coward and his longtime production designer, Gladys Calthrop, depart Waterloo on the boat train bound for New York, 1936. Credit: Courtesy of The Cinema Museum

Further images: as credited

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