In 1903, when the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, hosted the most opulent of the three great Durbars (this one in Delhi to celebrate the succession of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra), his wife, Lady Mary Curzon, ended up becoming the show stopper and the center of attention! Resplendent in the famous Peacock gown, the Vicereine made headlines not just in Europe, but also in Chicago, her hometown.
The famed Peacock gown, that she wore for the Durbar was made of gold cloth, with intricate zardozi needlework and it had overlapping peacock feathers, each one studded with a shimmering beetle wing! The ensemble was designed by Jean-Philippe Worth from the ‘House of Worth’, one of the most famous French fashion houses of the time. In fact, as pictures of the gown got flashed across continents, it is said that it also sent a flutter through the salons of Europe.
Queen Alexandra herself is said to have fallen in love with the intricate work done on the gown, when she saw Lady Curzon wear it in London. She liked it so much; that she decided that she would wear one, with the same intricate zardozi work, for her own coronation.
Today, the famous peacock gown and a portrait of Lady Curzon wearing it, stand at the Curzon family’s old house, Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire UK.