I recently had a Q&A event at the V&A and explained that part of my love for the museum is it's sheer size due to miles of galleries that take days to fully explore. Now I had the chance to discover an extra space, not usually open to the public. If you stand in the ceramics hall on the 6th floor and look directly up, you will notice a large circular hole in the ceiling. This is a peek into the "Cupola" which is a secret dome up in the highest heights and what feels like a bell tower. For a limited time only this is accessible by booking a slot to scale up the single width spiral stair case of 80 steps - advised as not suitable for those who suffer from claustrophobia or vertigo!
Once inside this rarely inhabited enclave you will find an exhibition inspired by endangered species "CONSERVATION COUTURE" Elephant Family presents: The Animal Ball Collection. Here is a display of the masks that have been made for a ball to raise money for projects protecting Elephants across Asia - whose population has dropped by 90% in the last 100 years. Here you can see the Muzungu Sisters design "Ganesha" Asian Elephant made by artisans from India, using patchworks of antique hand-embroidered cotton textiles. This is one of my favourite masks in the series of many more animals chosen to promote their vulnerable status, this one destined for a dinner hosted by HRH Princess Eugenie of York. On November 22nd, there will be a Gala of 40 separate restaurants across town, laying on a special Animal Ball night for guests to purchase tables. Instead of regular ticketing, the currency is thru acquisition of one of these designer masks and the accompanying set to gift to each guest of your pack. By investing in an original design from the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Mugler, Stella McCartney, Peter Pilotto, Phillip Treacy etc. you are directly contributing to an estimated total of £1million for these conservation causes. Each mask not only gains entry to one of the dinners but a ball afterwards for every animal to come together to complete the "Conservation Couture" collection.......... and no doubt dance the night away!
Exhibition credits: Elephant Family, Curated by Ryan Lanji, Executed by Install Archive, Supported by Swarovski and Selfridges. Open til 4th Nov, tickets for free by booking here.
(My edit, Top to bottom: Swarovski & Lara Jensen's Snow Leopard, Butterflies by Chloe, Alice Temperley's Turtle for dinner at Sexy Fish, Sabyasachi's Royal Bengal Tiger for dinner at Mark's Club, Pringle of Scotland's Fearless Lion for dinner at The London Edition, JRS Jewellery's Inho Giraffe for dinner at Alfred's Club, Muzungu Sisters Ganesha for dinner at The Art's Club, Piers Atkinson's Tetra / Great Barrier Reef for dinner at The Landmark, Philip Colbert's Gorilla POP for dinner at Coya, Simon Emery's Panda, Rui Xu's Deer for dinner at Park Chinois)