The ‘Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950’ exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum features over sixty gowns designed for private parties, royal balls, state occasions and opening nights. The newly renovated Fashion Galleries showcase these gowns, and are supported by giant projected images to celebrate over sixty years of a strong British design tradition. The exhibition was designed by an external designer, Emily Pugh, and the projection system was engineered and installed by Electrosonic.
The exhibition is spread over two floors; the lower level presents the gowns from 1950 to the early 2000s including Princess Diana’s 1989 ‘Elvis Dress’ designed by Catherine Walker and a Norman Hartnell gown designed for Elizabeth the Queen Mother; and the upper level displays gowns by contemporary UK-based designers including Roland Mouret, Giles, Erdem, Roksanda Illincic, Mary Katrantzou and Gareth Pugh.
The Fashion Galleries have been completely renovated to reveal their original architecture. The cathedral-like domed space with four big alcoves is used to project specially commissioned photographs of some of the principal exhibits by fashion photographer David Hughes. The images appear to float above the exhibition and bring the costumes and the space to life. The projection system used in the exhibition is simple in principle; however the size of the images, the need for off-axis projection and the compound curvature of the alcove surfaces make the exhibition technically complex.
The technology required for the exhibits feature four pairs of projectiondesign F32 WUXGA high brightness projectors equipped with wide angle lenses. Two projectors are required to display each image and achieve the correct size and aspect ratio. The projectors are housed in well-ventilated housings and receive DVI signals over ‘CAT-5’ cable.
The show runs from two 3XS workstations, each serving four projectors running Dataton WATCHOUT, which is used to edge blend and warp the images to map them onto the alcove shape.
The temporary exhibition runs from May 2012 until January 2013. The projection system is designed to also support subsequent exhibitions occupying the same gallery space in the future.