Enter the Enchanted

Enter the Enchanted

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I'll come right out and say that whilst I'm a fashion blogger by main definition, on the side I'm also a cantankerous London advocate and devotee as well.  This blog is shamelessly London-centric and yes, the majority proportion of you guys haven't a clue what I'm banging on about half the time but I'll forge ahead still with my up-talking of London.  When New Yorkers bang on about their city being the centre of earth, I'm not embarrassed to get hideously obnoxious when defending London.  It's ugly stuff, city patriotism.  

So, be prepared for gushing… a lot of gushing in fact, for what is probably the most awe-inspiring and magical exhibition that has hit London in a while.  Kensington Palace has become the Enchanted Palace starting from tomorrow and will remain so for two years.  Enough time to save up some pennies and visit London?  Me thinks so… *nudge nudge wink wink*

It's a pretty radical move for the Historic Royal Palaces to raise funds for its ¬£12 million renovation of Kensington Palace by making it utterly enchanted and enthralling.  Together with Cornish theatre group Wildworks as its main collaborator who were responsible for the sets, actors and overall conception as well as a select group of fashion designers and creatives, the rooms known to history aficionados as say The Privy Chamber, the Cupola Room, the King's Gallery, the Council Chamber etc… have all been transformed and most of the rooms contain a princess' tale to be unlocked…

I basically started off with a bemused expression when a lady handed me a map and a stubby pencil, telling me that seven famous Princesses were hidden in the rooms of the palace and could be found via clues… and though I was too busy worrying about camera lighting to join the quest… my expression did change into that of a wide-eyed, O-shaped gaping mouth 6-year-old.  I think increasingly I kept on exclaiming cornball Disneyland-ad things such as "This is MAGICAL!" and "Woooooow!"   Actually I spotted more than a few 'serious' journos with these gaping mouth expressions and me thinks collectively, our inner child was being unleashed.  Lord knows what will happen when ACTUAL children are let loose…

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The slightly theme park aspect was aided by the presence of these grey-cloaked 'detectors' who throughout the tour, patrolled the rooms, hurried around saying nonsensical things to each other, read bedtime stories to an imaginary Queen Victoria and at one point picked up my camera case which I had dropped in a room and very sternly logged this incident in his special notebook (see left pic below).  

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Into the Room of Royal Sorrows… alright, it's sort of veeeeery obvious what room unearths which Princess/monarch so I'm just going to put it right out there.  Hopefully I'm not going to be stoned by die-hard questers.  So Queen Mary II's (1662-1694) failure to produce an heir inspired Aminaka Wilmont's creation draped across the bed.  The crystal encrusted material looks almost like it has been tear-stained and the ensemble has also been accentuated by the table of tear-catcher jars.

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Stephen Jones' millinery creations have been hung around the Room of Enlightenment, inspired by the 18th century busts of philosophers and scientists… Sir Issac Newton here… geddit?

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The Room of Palace Time was the point where my mouth really dropped open.  The original opulence of the room with its spectacular clock centre piece is now completely elevated and augmented by four Boudicca installation pieces that uses the timepieces of clockwork to work into 'dresses the colour of time'.  The sculptural elements are instantly recognisable as Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby's distinctive silhouettes except the materials mirror that of clock parts.  You sort of need to devote at least five minutes staring up at the ceiling…   

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On the Grand Staircase aka the Room of Flight, Princess Charlotte (1796 – 1817) inspired this Vivienne Westwood 'dress for a rebellious princess'… natural of course that the oft-18th-century-inspired Westwood should partake in this project and I love the way the dress is on the stairs, ready to flee at any moment…

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No dresses or installations here but there is…. *fist pump* a throne where you sit in it, say something and it echoes all around you…

That's power for you man… when your voice is echoing…

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Next up…another stunner courtesy of all rounder illustrator, window dresser and style maven Echo Morgan.  Her amazing willow frame skirt dotted with decoupage bits and bobs clued us in…

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…to her creation for the Room of the World.  An 18th century paper mantua representing the world with a mix of collage and her own illustration… it takes a few up-close stares to get an idea of the amount of work that has gone into it…

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Elsewhere in this worldly room is a cabinet of curiosities which actually does require a good 10-20 minutes worth of investigation as every door and drawer opens up to reveal a mix of contemporary art pieces and historical palace collections that have been curated by Echo.  She's done a stupendous job of commissioning and putting together this assembly of pieces that I think I will revisit just to grab all the names and do further research.  All these collector tendencies refer to Queen Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737) own collecting habits. 

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The first room may have been called the Room of Royal Sorrows but it was in the Room of Dancing Princesses where you felt the most melancholic.  Princess Margaret and Princess Diana's dresses are displayed in the least gimmick-ridden room…

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Queen Victoria's bedroom (this was the room where a young Victoria was told that she was to be queen… ) has been given a Princess and the Pea-style bed with letters and books strewn all over the place leading the pi√®ce de r√©sistance in the corner.  William Tempest has created an origami dress that seemingly disappears into nothing.  The room is actually lit up in a deep blue but I had to use the flash to find out what sort of paper Tempest had used for the dress. 

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If you get freaked out by children's voices speaking in quiet tones, then don't go into the Room of Lost Childhood.  I quite enjoyed the display of pieces from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection including ickle baby shoes, teensy kid gloves and tiny booties…

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10,000 toy soldiers all lined up in the Gallery of War and Play… the only bit that is relatively 'boyish'. 

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The final princess in unearthed in the Room of Quarrels where Queen Anne (1665-1714) fell out with Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough and you get an audio re-enactment of the quarrel…

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Finally in the Gallery of Dancing Shadows, all seven princesses are revealed to you in a bank of mirrors where their images flicker on and off and across the ceiling, the freakily magical shadows of the princesses come dancing…

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Ok, so admittedly, there are heavy-doses of Disney-esque fun ladled out in the exhibition which personally for me is half the fun.  Still, the fact remains that this quest, the tales of the Princesses reside in a palace steeped in history and that's what made this a real treat for me.  Wildworks respected the palace and without building overwrought sets, augmented the existing rooms with lighting and sound effects and of course the collaborations with the designers that also contributed to an exhibition that will appeal beyond history nuts and parents with kids on half-term hols.

I've veered way off fashion-turf probably but hey, anything to get some of you to at least try and check this exhibition out whilst it's on.  There are two loooong years to do so!

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78 comments

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  1. saime

    2010-03-25 at 10:48 PM

    wow speechless 🙂
    wonderful pics

  2. Clare

    2010-03-25 at 11:05 PM

    You look lovely as always, but that place… Wow. Too bad I’m not London centric and can’t go and play there. That dress with light underneath is fully amazing…
    http://iliketweet.blogspot.com/
    x

  3. Alex

    2010-03-25 at 11:12 PM

    It’s things like this that make me miss living in London. Thank God for cheapie Ryanair flights. Am definitely coming over to check this out.

  4. ondressingup

    2010-03-25 at 11:14 PM

    This looks entirely amazing — the cynic in me would vomit and make crass jokes at the threshold but i imagine, like you, the true romantic would come out. God! Rooms full of knick knacks always kill me.

  5. chelsea

    2010-03-25 at 11:16 PM

    This looks amazing, will definitely have to make a visit some time.

  6. taylor

    2010-03-25 at 11:20 PM

    i need to show my parents this so they can take me there!
    aster-taylor.blogspot.com

  7. Winnie

    2010-03-25 at 11:49 PM

    Ahhh this looks absolutely bonkers- especially the patrolling ‘detectors’. I love it and I need to visit pronto. Thank goodness for Easter holidays and no lectures!

  8. Brigadeiro

    2010-03-25 at 11:51 PM

    Ooh! Such fun! Am crossing my fingers I make it to London this year…LOVE your outfit!!! Especially the pale blue blazer & pants! GORGEOUS
    xx

  9. Catherine

    2010-03-25 at 11:59 PM

    Wowy WOWOWOWOW

  10. Clare

    2010-03-26 at 12:03 AM

    Wow you have pretty much made my trip back to london next week! I had to whizz through this post really quickly because it became very evident very quickly that I had to check this out and that it would be good if it was a surprise!

  11. John Malvin

    2010-03-26 at 12:18 AM

    This place seems like it provides a lot of mind boggling creations. I’ve had this nagging voice in my head for a while now telling me that I need to visit London. This post motivates me even more!

  12. Erica

    2010-03-26 at 12:42 AM

    such creative pieces! as usual
    -Erica
    http://allaboutitt.blogspot.com/

  13. The Licentiate

    2010-03-26 at 1:03 AM

    When I was a little kid my nan would tell me stories about princesses in castles and in my minds eye it always looked like this. Amazing. One of those rare things that pops up every once in a while and makes you go WOW!
    http://www.thelicentiate.blogspot.com

  14. Tforia

    2010-03-26 at 1:21 AM

    I really like the gray blazer–wear did you get it?

  15. jem

    2010-03-26 at 1:42 AM

    i’ve herd that this exibit is fantastic, now i want to see it even more! i better hop over to london soon! 🙂

  16. Bouquet

    2010-03-26 at 2:07 AM

    Ah, it sounds so enchanting! Wish I could actually go…

  17. Mary

    2010-03-26 at 3:31 AM

    It’s on for two years? FANTASTIC!
    I’m going to start saving up now.

  18. Abysm

    2010-03-26 at 3:45 AM

    *gasp*

  19. All Women Stalker

    2010-03-26 at 4:00 AM

    Ohmygod, I got goosebumpbs! Thank you, Susie, for this wonderful post.

  20. the spectator

    2010-03-26 at 8:02 AM

    The decoupage gown is exquisite. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Leonidas

    2010-03-26 at 9:23 AM

    amazing. i almost travelled there! and i love your top susie!
    http://thestyleparticle.blogspot.com

  22. Clare

    2010-03-26 at 9:35 AM

    This looks wonderful! I feel I shall have to make the trip to London, purely to see this! It looks like you would just be in another world when walking around it…
    Clare x

  23. RaRA

    2010-03-26 at 9:53 AM

    Hi I follow your blog since 2009 I love your post and your way of thinking for fashion.For one month ago I stared to write my blog and I think that I must to work hard to get up. I saw this post and I won to tell you that if you one day will go to Poland you must to go to Krakow and to see a museum of “BAGS” it have so old Bags that remember time of Napoleon Bonaparte. see you on my blog I hope so!!!!!! http://laarmoire.blogspot.com/

  24. Sminparis.blogspot.com

    2010-03-26 at 11:34 AM

    Thank you soooo much Susie for this post. I’ll be in London in 2 weeks and there’s no way I will miss this exhibition! Hey btw, if you have time go on my blog, I’ve taken a picture of you while you were off to the Chlo√© show in Paris. Looking good!

  25. Sabine

    2010-03-26 at 3:43 PM

    Oh magical, magical! I’ll search for my history book today and will go tomorrow. Will report back…

  26. Miss Curious

    2010-03-26 at 4:05 PM

    WOW. It’s things like this that make me WANT to live in London! Amazing photos. Your blog has made me feel ike I was there, although next time I’m in London will defo check this out.

  27. Ali (hello birdy)

    2010-03-26 at 4:17 PM

    I am absolutely going to see this!

  28. Lora Jane

    2010-03-26 at 5:23 PM

    That looks amazing! Like some sort of Hogwarts! Thanks for sharing!

  29. susie_bubble

    2010-03-26 at 6:10 PM

    Tiora: The jacket is by Krystof Strozyna…! It’s more of a teal-y grey colour!
    Glad ppl are digging all the magic! And it goes without saying, PLEASE try and go because two years really is a looong time to plan a trip to Laaaandon.

  30. Hoa

    2010-03-26 at 6:36 PM

    how perfect!!! Im going to london next week!! I’ve heard nothing but amazing things!! thanks for the post! i look forward to the visit.

  31. chelsey

    2010-03-26 at 6:47 PM

    what an awesome exhibit! I would love to see this…too bad I’m in the U.S!

  32. yve

    2010-03-26 at 7:26 PM

    Looks like so much fun =) i’ll definitely go check it out!

  33. zazoza

    2010-03-26 at 7:29 PM

    Wow. This literally gave me goosebumps. I was born in London but Ive been living in Brazil for 17 years, and I lived just around the corner to Kensington Palace, so it makes it even more amazing to me. I cant believe its on for 2 years, I definetely have to go see this.

  34. Stephanie

    2010-03-26 at 9:47 PM

    This is stunning! I cant believe I’ve not seen it yet?

  35. stace

    2010-03-26 at 10:01 PM

    i am going tomorrow! wowowow http://www.staceylouisegrant.blogspot.com

  36. Margaret

    2010-03-26 at 10:05 PM

    Hey, Susie ~ I’m a New Yorker who lived in London once upon a time and I regularly pine for it!! I often check your blog for inspiration when putting together an outfit. Just to bring more fashion flare to what is actually a fairly conservative city. Don’t tell my friends here, but New York has a lot to learn about personal expression in fashion. I’m so glad that you are broadcasting with style from across the pond!! Sooner or later, the point will make its way across. For now, though, London is hipper – hands down!
    And this posting is fabulous! What a wonderful show. Worth a trip to London. Thank goodness they are giving us lots of time to save for it!

  37. Style Slicker

    2010-03-27 at 12:19 AM

    Couldn’t go on preview day cos they banned all cameras from taking pics til press day :Z

  38. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  39. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  40. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  41. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  42. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  43. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  44. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  45. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  46. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  47. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  48. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  49. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  50. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  51. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  52. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  53. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  54. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  55. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  56. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  57. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  58. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  59. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  60. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  61. teacups & Couture

    2010-03-27 at 4:59 AM

    Wow! I gotta go there- Long Live the Queen and England!!!!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

  62. Kazuko

    2010-03-27 at 6:01 AM

    a m a z i n g – thanks for sharing!

  63. Milana

    2010-03-27 at 10:02 AM

    Wow! Must-Go-Se-Asap! Looks amazing. And yes, London is the greatest city in the world – there’s just something about the charm and the people and the feel! Go London! 🙂
    And you look lovely, btw.
    Milana from http://fashionstyleadvice.com

  64. Sabine

    2010-03-27 at 8:43 PM

    Back to say I that it’s a fabulous exhibition and I had a great time. Sometimes I had to remind myself to look beyond the show pieces to also take in the original rooms and their designs. Was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t have my picture taken while sitting on the throne and there was a slight confusion when my friend and I named one princess as Boudicca… We might be ignorant but had lots of fun!

  65. susie_bubble

    2010-03-28 at 3:48 AM

    Sabine: Oh really? No pics at the throne? Glad you liked it though… hah…Princess Boudicca…well there was a queen… but way before the time of Kensington Palace alas…

  66. rollergirl

    2010-03-28 at 2:07 PM

    Wished I’d had more time to do all the interactiveness. This is NOT an exhibition to squeeze in between press days! I’m def going back to do the whole thing properly. It’s so well done, the actors and ‘explainers’ are great and this is such a cool way to teach history. Kids will absolutely love it. My favourite piece was William Tempest’s origami dress – fab.

  67. Fiona

    2010-03-29 at 10:38 AM

    I love the echo morgan map dress, the headless corpse westwood dress and the floral fox in her cabinet of curiosities by the animal activist and artist angela singer i’ve found it up on her site http://www.angelasinger.com/?page_id=42 I will be back again

  68. Annie

    2010-03-30 at 12:50 PM

    YES! WHOOP LONDON!! I think we’re allowed a bit of city patriotism, considering racked have whole blogs devoted to NY, LA, etc.

  69. selina

    2010-04-14 at 11:35 PM

    wow i can’t miss this! all these things in one place?

  70. gresa

    2010-04-17 at 11:19 AM

    i went yesterday, it was beautiful

  71. Delia

    2011-04-03 at 8:29 AM

    I found the Enchanted Palace flowered fox that was in Echo
    Morgan’s Cabinet http://www.angelasinger.com/?page_id=42 and http://www.facebook.com/angela.singer.artist

  72. Cristina

    2011-11-11 at 11:27 AM

    This really helped with my textiles project. When I went there they told me off for using flash xD

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