Technology in royal fashion: New Paper app designed for Fashion Rules exhibition at Kensington Palace

The exhibition at Kensington Palace introduces iPads, wi-fi and a new level of interactivity- including a specially designed version of Paper app

David Phelan
Monday 22 July 2013 16:26
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While the world waits, apparently, to hear about the third in line to the throne, the palace which will be his or her home has just opened a new exhibition.

The show features dresses worn by Princess Margaret, Princess Diana and the Queen. It’s exquisitely done, down to the glass which is artfully arranged to avoid reflections and the quiet colours used in the display edges that focus attention on the dresses themselves. And the dresses somehow manage to look as though they’re floating in the air, filled perfectly by invisible bodies.

There are dresses by Hardy Amies, Norman Hartnell and Zandra Rhodes, among others. And the exhibition reveals that the royals have been media-savvy for decades – dresses were designed in strong colours so they would stand out on black-and-white TV.

This exhibition is subtly higher tech than previous ones – it’s the first one in Kensington Palace to have wi-fi, for instance. Phones with NFC technology can read extra information and those without can scan QR codes to increase what they can see.

In each room there is a stand with an iPad on it and exhibition staff are on hand with more iPads and instructions on what to do with them.

The exhibitors approached FiftyThree Inc, makers of the popular and beautiful Paper app. Paper is a simple and highly enjoyable way to create notes, drawings and illustrations as delicate as water colours and then share them across the web. It’s an intuitive and gorgeous app.

For the exhibition, FiftyThree created a bespoke version of the app. Touch the iPad and line drawings appear on the pages, which you can flick through. Then you can colour them in using your finger on the glass screen.

Georg Petschnigg, CEO of FiftyThree, told the Independent that each page has been carefully crafted: “The colour palette is different for each, designed to match the style of that decade.”

And once you’ve expressed your creativity on the costume drawings you can email your results to yourself or upload them to a Tumblr along with other visitors’ efforts.

At first, there’s a slightly anarchic feeling when you realise you can paint on the line drawing templates – it’s like graffiti. But you quickly become comfortable with it, especially if you are a regular user of Paper.

The bespoke app made for the exhibition isn’t on the iTunes store to download or buy, although Petschnigg revealed they’d like to do more collaborations – maybe some of these will be available to buy.

Meantime, this is a gorgeous exhibition with clever interactive extras.

Fashion Rules at Kensington Palace; no end date announced. Admission £15

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