Vivienne Westwood casts spell on London palace

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The Independent Online

Kensington Palace will be taken over by British designers in a bid to lure in the masses.

The palace is at the center of a transformation project designed to make the royal residence in London more accessible to the public, even though the designs of Vivienne Westwood, Stephen Jones, or William Tempest - who are all involved in the project - usually aren't.

Thought up by theater company Wildworks, the designers, joined by other UK labels including Boudicca, Aminaka Wilmon, and the illustrator Echo Morgan, are turning the residence into an Enchanted Palace through installations inspired by the princesses that lived there.

According to Wildworks, these installations will include "interactive theatre, intimate storytelling, soundscapes, haunting film projections, and a series of intriguing clues hidden throughout the historic rooms, revealing tales of love and hate, surprise and sadness, secrets and jealousy."

Aspects of the princesses' lives at court will be dealt with in separate rooms. The importance of producing a male heir will be addressed in Queen Mary II's bedchamber, for example: none of Mary's 14 pregnancies were successful, and Aminaka Wilmont created a "dress of tears" for her room.

Fittingly, Vivienne Westwood created a "dress for the rebellious princess" inspired by the 'spirited' Charlotte, daughter of King George IV and Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

Further highlights will include a hat display by milliner Stephen Jones and William Tempest's trompe l'oeil dress that will "appear to vanish and merge into its surroundings."

The Enchanted Palace opens March 26 and will run through January 2011.