A Fabric of Cultures was an exhibition of seven unique garments designed and produced by local Kensington community groups, as part of a project with Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity responsible for Kensington Palace.
Inspired by the work of British-Nigerian contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare, the designs fuse contemporary art with the history of Kensington Palace, whilst reflecting on the contemporary cultures and identity of its creators.
The collection of seven garments were made by nearly 100 children aged between six and eight from seven community groups, with the guidance and expertise of professional fashion designers such as Sarah Baulch, Laura Prideaux and arts organisation Cloth of Gold. The project, run by Kensington Palace, was designed to take inspiration from the fashions of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries that the characters of Kensington Palace would have once worn.
Joy Ekpeti, Intergenerational Outreach Officer, Historic Royal Palaces said: “The exhibition, inspired by historic clothing from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection at Kensington Palace, presents a snapshot of the culture of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea celebrating the diversity of the borough and its people. A range of local families have worked on this project to create a 21st century take on classic clothing for this community fashion show.”
In using key materials such as African fabrics, Indian saris and English lace along with printing techniques used to create patterned fabrics, the garments make a connection with the local community by using symbols from the participants’ cultural backgrounds.
The children and their families visited the palace as part of their training to become palace explorers, and as a result they wanted to be part of the Fabric of Cultures project which ran after school and during school time.
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.