During its multi-million pound refurbishment, Kensington Palace was transformed into a magical ‘Enchanted Palace’ by legendary designers including Dame Vivienne Westwood and Boudicca. The Palace played host to exhibitions and live performances, which were there to both, promote the history of the Palace and the designer’s collections.
From the second I walked in I was blown away by the atmosphere, the history, and the sense of magic created by the set design and the actors. I was given a beautifully illustrated map of the palace and told that my quest was to find the names of the seven Princesses whose stories are celebrated in the Enchanted Palace. Each room uncovered the strange and mysterious histories of seven former resident Princesses, in an interactive and exciting way.
I was in awe looking in the first room, The Room of Royal Sorrow. The history and original features were still in tact but the set designers had created such a magical atmosphere to match the emotive narrative. Here I came across the first designers work, suspended in the four-poster bed frame an almost ghostly enchanting scene. Soon I was whirl-winded into the middle of a live performance, captured by two talented actresses playing housemaids. They told us the history of the room, whilst interacting with the audience, making us laugh, cry and think. The timing of their entrance, their convincing passion for the subject and the emotions they made us feel just made the experience so much more powerful. Throughout the Palace I uncovered more and more stunning exhibitions, interactive zones, historical artefacts, and interesting characters. The Gallery of Dancing shadows was the most impressive chamber, featuring a Dame Vivienne Westwood dress floating down the staircase hauntingly, accompanied by a eerie soundtrack of shuffling feet and whispering voices.
I was worried when I first arrived because I was alone and because I had a feeling I might be a little to old to be hunting for Princesses. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The exhibition could be appreciated by all ages, the actors took all age groups into account and the narrative was sure to enchant every visitor. The exhibition had the perfect balance of shared and individual experiences. Sometimes it was nice to admire some parts alone but then the actors persuaded everyone into playing characters in their narrative, which really brought the story to life.
The combination of History and Fashion worked stunningly well. The stories brought the clothes to life, we could imagine who would be wearing that garment and what emotions they would be feeling. The way the Garments were displayed was almost haunting prompting the audience to feel emotion too.
This magical, inspirational event helped me experience Kensington Palace and the Designers work in a memorable and unique way. I have spoke about it to many people, and have used it as reference in my own work many times. I have promoted it as a must-see exhibition as it continues to provoke emotion and inspire me long after it has finished.