Designs for life  

Budding fashion designers had a chance to shine in front of royalty at the finale of the DesignQuest project, which aimed to encourage young people to learn about costume and design.
The young people were invited to a catwalk show in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at Banqueting House, where their designs were modelled by RADA students.
DesignQuest kicked off in November 2010 with 330 children aged between 11 and 14 from nine London schools and was created by The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts with Historic Royal Palaces and the Burberry Foundation.
The students began DesignQuest by visiting the ‘Enchanted Palace’ exhibition at Kensington Palace, where they were able to take their inspiration from the palace’s Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, comprising around 10,000 items of clothing worn by British royalty and courtiers dating back to the 18th century.
The children also took part in workshops at Kensington Palace and in their classrooms led by the Education team at Historic Royal Palaces. These sessions aimed to develop creativity, critical thinking and learning skills using cross-curricular links with Art, Design Technology and History.
Then it was down to work – the pupils were encouraged to produce their own fashion designs based on the theme of Court Dress. Students were introduced to the topics of upcycling and recycling through the alteration and embellishment of existing garments. They worked collaboratively to make contemporary versions of clothing worn throughout the ages at the royal court.
A main aim of the project is to give children who might not have the opportunity the chance to learn about design and fashion from arts practitioners and to see a professional exhibition.
Jeremy Newton, the chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation for Children & The Arts, told us: ‘ Most of the children taking part wouldn’t normally have the chance to work with the Education team at Historic Royal Palaces, to have such wonderful access to the collection or learn new skills and express their creativity in such a unique and fun way.’
The results of their hard work were celebrated in a fantastic finale on Wednesday (July 20) at which HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, together with the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London Sir David Brewer and Lord Mayor of Westminster Cllr Susie Burbridge, watched a very special fashion show of the children’s dress and jacket designs. Master of Ceremonies for the fashion show was actor and one of the stars of Shrek The Musical, Richard Blackwood, who has recently become an ambassador for Children & the Arts.
Students from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art modelled a selection of the designs on the catwalk. After the show, The Duchess met the models and designers, praising the work that had gone into each of the garments and asking what in particular had inspired the young people’s designs.

Mr Newton added: ‘This has been a very successful pilot project, and we hope to be able to run DesignQuest in future years and give many more children the opportunity to learn about design and use their own imagination and creativity to produce some amazing costumes.’
Schools taking part were: Burlington Danes Academy, Westminster Academy, Chelsea Academy,Westminster City School, St Thomas More Language College, Holland Park School, Cambridge School (SEN), Sion-Manning RC Girls School and The London Oratory School.