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Spectacular exhibits for Diana's dress & leading designers

Dec '11
Independent charity Historic Royal Palaces is undertaking a £12 million major renovation project at Kensington Palace, to be completed in March 2012, in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.

Whilst improvement works are underway, the immersive exhibition Enchanted Palace has cast a spell over Kensington's magnificent State Apartments, creating a mysterious and atmospheric world for visitors to explore. Contemporary fashion installations inspired by the stories of the seven princesses who once lived at the palace - Mary, Anne, Caroline, Charlotte, Victoria, Margaret and Diana – are enhanced by live performance, storytelling, soundscapes and film projections, to reveal Kensington Palace in a magical new light.

As part of this evolving exhibition, a series of stunning new displays of courtly costume will be unveiled, created by leading British designers Paul Costelloe, Vivienne Westwood, Bruce Oldfield, and Zandra Rhodes. These vivid creations have been imaginatively presented in association with artists from Cornish theatre company WILDWORKS.

Irish designer Paul Costelloe has created a striking installation for Queen Victoria's bedroom, featuring giant puppets standing up to 12ft tall, clad in his own designs. Coming from a large family, and with seven children of his own, the designer was intrigued by Queen Victoria's isolated childhood at Kensington Palace, and collaborated with WILDWORKS designer Myriddin Wannell to create four enormous puppets to serve as imaginary friends for a lonely young princess.

Paul and Myriddin have also worked their creative magic over the bedroom itself to present 'The Room of a Sleeping Princess', complete with a bed piled high with mountains of mattresses and cushions in silk brocade by Manuel Canovas at Colefax and Fowler. Many small dolls dating from the 18th to the 20th century, loaned from the Museum of Childhood's handling collection, are delicately scattered around the bed.

From Kensington Palace's extensive fashion archives, unique outfits by Vivienne Westwood, Bruce Oldfield and Zandra Rhodes, originally created for the palace's 1992's 'Court Couture' exhibition, have been given a new fairytale twist. Vivienne Westwood's fabulous corseted creation, renamed a 'Dress for Flying into the Arms of Love and Death', is suspended mid-air as if fleeing down the King's Grand Staircase.

WILDWORKS artistic director Bill Mitchell has transformed Bruce Oldfield's classic white gown into a 'Dress for Reflection' in the sumptuous Queen's Bedchamber. Bill has also created a darkly dramatic installation for Zandra Rhodes's 'Dress for the Queen of the Night' in the Privy Chamber, surrounded by historic tapestries and busts of great scientists and philosophers. Boudicca's glistening metallic sculptures, unveiled during the first phase of Enchanted Palace in March, continue to adorn the golden chandeliers of the magnificent Cupola Room.

Forthe King's Drawing Room, WILDWORKS' Mercedes Kemp has curated a 'cabinet of curiosities' inspired by Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737), queen consort of George II, and a prolific collector of precious and intriguing objects from around the globe. The theme for the Cabinet is the journeys undertaken by women from all over the world, their mothers and grandmothers, to reach London. Many women of all ages, with diverse heritages, have contributed to the cabinet, providing iconic objects that remind them of home.

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