Royal inspired couture

Kensington Palace and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea joined forces to promote a royal-inspired couture collection created by children from local community groups.

A Fabric of Cultures was an exhibition of seven unique garments designed and produced by Kensington community groups as part of a project with Historic Royal Places, the independent charity responsible for Kensington Palace. 

Fabric of Culture

The collection of seven garments were made by nearly 100 children aged between six and eight from seven community groups. The schools and centres involved from the Royal Borough include Ashburham Primary School, Thomas Jones Primary School, Marlborough Primary School, Avondale Park Primary School, Clement James Girls group and Al-Hasaniya Moroccan girls group.

Inspired by the work of British-Nigerian contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare, the designs fuse contemporary art with the history of Kensington Palace, while reflecting on the contemporary cultures and identity of its creators. The project was designed to take inspiration from the fashions of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the characters of Kensington Palace would have once worn. 

The event also helped promote the recent refurbishment of Chelsea reference library which is home to an impressive Fashion and Costume collection which has been given greater prominence in the revamped library’s layout.

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Cabinet Members for Libraries, said:

Fabric of Culture

“This is a beautiful collection and the intricate stitching and painstaking attention to detail by our young people brings to life the fashion of bygone eras.

  “I’d urge residents of all ages to come and see this collection and also check out our refurbished Chelsea reference library which, amongst other things, boasts an impressive selection of fashion titles.”

For more information or images:

  • please email Nicola Osmond-Evans in the Historic Royal Palaces press office,
  • or telephone on 020 3166 6303/6166

Notes on the garments

Fabric of Couture

The garments were produced by Cloth of Gold who helped participants come up with a symbol that reflected their culture.  They created stencils out of these symbols and silk screen printed the stencils onto cotton fabrics and materials, which complemented the finished pieces. This was then taken away and sewn into a garment that characters below would have worn.

Queen Caroline of Ansbach – The style of the patchwork cloak was inspired by the late Alexandra McQueen. It was made with six different fabrics representing different nations. The groups took inspiration from Alexander McQueen’s RTW coat gown and his use of the union jack. This patchwork cloak was made by the Al-Hasaniya Morrocan girls group, with the guidance of fashion designer Laura Prideaux. Pieces of triangles were cut from six different ethnic fabrics, and they were then stitched together by hand. The group looked at the exhibition and used it as an opportunity to learn about Queen Caroline.

Queen Victoria

This dress was based on her wedding dress. The groups chose this garment as it represents the happiest moment of her life: marrying Prince Albert. This garment includes red Indian sarees, as red is a traditional colour for Indian brides. This dress features a combination of the different schools that took part in the project.

Princess Diana

This dress is based on her ‘Elvis Dress’ by designer Catherine Walker. It features Tower Bridge, as England is the participant’s favourite country, and a Japanese tea pot. It is finished off with a Nigerian textile called Ankara. Made by Marlborough Primary School.

Princess Margaret

Fabric of Couture

This is the only dress to be entirely designed and made by the group - young girls aged 12 - 15 from the Clement James Centre. Inspired by debutantes’ garments they saw on an exclusive viewing of the dress collection at Kensington Palace. The girls researched life as Princess Margaret and were inspired to create a piece she could go to a party in. They wanted created something edgy but at the same time pretty and feminine.

Princess Charlotte

This dress is based on a day dress the princess would have worn. This fabric includes references to a variety of cultures - Bangladesh (bracelets), English (tea cups and the London Eye) Moroccan decorative motif. Japanese cloth was used for the sleeves and trimmings on the dress. Produced by Ashburnham Primary school.

Peter the Wild Boy

This was made by Thomas Jones Primary School, at after school sessions as part of the art club. There were six families involved in making the garments. The parrot represents Jamaica, the cuffs and the inner linen are also covered in Jamaican flags. This was based on an 18th century men's jacket.

William III

This 17th century men's military jacket was created by Marlborough Primary school. The symbols on the jacket include a Claddagh Irish ring, prayer beads from Sudan and the Hamsa Moroccan eye.