Fashion and art

Fashion and art

An image echo of Princess Margaret

Last chance to see! Closes on 3 January 2012.

Contemporary fashion, light and art collide with Kensington’s incredible history to create stunning installations

Kensington Palace is rich with three hundred years of British history and extraordinary stories.  The lives of the kings and queens, dukes and princesses who lived here are filled with love and loss, joy and jealousy. 

Enchanted Palace represents a new collaboration between fashion designers, artists and the colourful and dramatic past of Kensington Palace; for the first time, designers and artists have been challenged to use the incredible stories of the people who lived in the palace as the springboard for stunning installations in the Enchanted Palace. 

Photo of Chris LevineChris Levine

An artist of light, who is intrigued not only by its visual beauty but also its sensory energy and spiritual dimension. Chris Levine trained at both Central St Martins and the Chelsea School of Design. His work is thought provoking and compelling, brilliantly demonstrating the transformational power of light. 

Chris’s work has explored the potential of lasers, LEDs and holograms as artistic media. His varied output has included creations for Selfridges and the Eden Project, as well as collaborations with Mario Testino and Swarovski.  This is not the first time royalty has been the subject matter of Chris's work either; in 2004 he produced Equamity, the first hologram of Her Majesty, the Queen to commemorate 800 years of the island of Jersey’s allegiance to the crown

Kensington’s State Apartments have always been transformed by light, from the glittering sparkle of thousands of flickering candles flames to the velvety shadows cast over the grand entrance stairs on a winter’s evening. Chris’s work for the Enchanted Palace resonates with echoes of these historical light transformations, offering an enthralling contemporary response to Kensington’s remarkable history. 

Photo of Jane DarkeJane Darke

Painter and filmmaker Jane Darke shares her north Cornish home with an extraordinary collection of sea-borne objects; everything from plastic lobster pot tags to seedpods from South America. Jane’s husband, the playwright Nick Darke, came from a family of wreckers, or beachcombers. Over the years he collected a vast array of objects, carried by the sea and washed up on the surrounding beaches, slowly building up a treasure trove within their home. The wild, rugged beauty of Cornwall has been central to work of both Nick and Jane and the formation of their collection was the subject of Jane’s quietly powerful film The Wrecking Season. 

For the Enchanted Palace part of this wonderfully eclectic collection has made its way up to Kensington to form part of our cabinet of curiosities, now transformed into a cabinet from the sea.  Cabinets of curiosities emerged in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe as a way of making sense of the unknown world. For their creators they were also things of beauty and wonder, to be marvelled at and enjoyed. Delving into the beautiful, strange and intriguing collection of Nick and Jane Darke, all neatly ordered and arranged, offers a contemporary echo of those historic cabinets, with their rich and rare treasures.

Bruce Oldfield

Since launching his own label in 1975, Bruce Oldfield has had a reputation for designing elegant and stylish evening wear adored by Hollywood stars and international royalty. His clients have included Catherine Zeta Jones, Sienna Miller, Jerry Hall, and Queen Rania of Jordan but his most famous client was undoubtedly Diana, Princess of Wales. For over a decade Oldfield, who trained at Central St Martins, was one of Princess Diana's favourite designers and had an instinct for creating the sophisticated occasionwear that added a new glamour to the young princess. 

Oldfield’s skilfully constructed and draped dress in the Enchanted Palace represents another stylish and graceful Kensington princess. 

Dame Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood on the catwalkWestwood is known for her witty reinterpretation of historical dress. Her fashion wit and irreverence first found their outlet in the 1970s where, along with her then partner Malcolm McLaren, Westwood helped to shape and dress the emerging Punk movement. Starting out as the bad girl of British fashion, she has become the modern symbol of the industry and was awarded a damehood in 2006.

Her work frequently takes inspiration from royal costume and has ranged from Harris Tweed crowns to perfume bottle sceptres! It will therefore come as no surprise that her fairytale dress for Enchanted Palace is fit for a spirited, passionate princess.


A photograph of Boudicca Video: Boudicca on their installation - A Dress the Colour of Time »

Naming your company after a famous warrior queen suggests a certain independence of spirit and thought, qualities for which the design duo Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby are well known.  They established the Boudicca label in 1997 and soon gained a reputation for exciting, avant-garde design. 

Enchanted Palace marks a return to Kensington for Boudicca.  In 1992 Brian Kirkby was part of the Court Couture project in which the traditional 1937 court dress regulations were interpreted with a modern twist. Kirkby’s futuristic design, complete with fibre optic train, was an ideal blend of the ultramodern and traditional. 

About Enchanted Palace

Kensington Palace has been enchanted. Journey through this magical experience weaving contemporary fashion, performance, dreamlike installations and tales of the princesses who once lived there, all set against the backdrop of the magnificent State Apartments. In association with WILDWORKS. Click here to find out more >

Peter the Wild Boy's blog

Wild Boy's blog image

For an irreverent digital guide to the Enchanted Palace - including exclusive content featuring the fashion, fairytale and 300 years of palace gossip - follow Peter’s blog or find him on Facebook or Twitter.

The transformation of Kensington Palace

A watercolour image showing the transformation of the entrance to Kensington Palace'Welcome to Kensington - a palace for everyone' is a £12 million major project to transform Kensington Palace by improving accessibility, introducing new education and community facilities, reconnecting the palace with the surrounding park through new public gardens, and enabling us to present exciting exhibitions inspired by the palace's rich past and unique collections. Click here for more information >

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