Lifestyle Style See Inside the Workshop Where Looks Worn by Lizzo – and the Royals! — Are Prepped for New Exhibit PEOPLE has a behind-the-scenes peek at how textile specialists are making the final touches to famous dresses for this year's 'Crown to Couture' exhibition at Kensington Palace By Simon Perry Published on February 17, 2023 01:44 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Lizzo. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty In the first floor suite of rooms at magnificent Hampton Court Palace, a unique band of fashion conservationists are hard at work. The experts from Historic Royal Palaces' textile team, who are usually tasked with looking after and restoring antique — and some relatively modern — royal gowns, are working on a new set of landmark outfits. Laid out on a large table is the extravagant cloak from an ensemble worn by Lizzo at the 2022 Met Gala. On a gold mannequin across the bright white room, is the outlandish design by Andrea Grossi that rapper Lil Nas X paraded in at the 2021 BET Awards. And being tended nearby is Kirsten Dunst's Marie Antoinette-style gown designed by Oscar de la Renta. All are being prepared for a huge exhibition that will take place in Kensington Palace when it opens to the public on April 5, 2023. The largest exhibition of dresses they have put on, Crown to Couture will fill much of public space taking visitors "on a journey, from the preparation and styling required for an attendance at one of the hottest tickets in town and the 'fashion rules' that must be followed, to the grand arrivals at both the court and the red carpet," according to a statement from the Historic Royal Palaces. Before then, painstaking work is under way to get the 70 gowns (50 modern and 20 historic) ready for the public. The outfits will have to be on show for seven months, often on open display (i.e. not behind glass) with the inherent risk of dust, finger prints (no touching!) and the commotion of thousands of visitors to take into consideration. Textle conservator Beatrice Farmer with the Thom Browne outfit. Simon Perry/©️COURTESY OF THOM BROWNE As the Thom Browne outfit, worn by Lizzo last year, lies in three separate parts on tables, Libby Thompson, costume supervisor, tells PEOPLE, "It's our job is to make sure that whilst it's on display for those seven months, it's as stable as possible, looks aesthetically pleasing and how the curator would like it to look." When a dress arrives at the textile conservation studios, the team starts with a condition assessment, documents everything and then repairs anything that needs it. "Then it's a case of choosing a base mannequin that is as close as possible to that object, but then padding it so that it exactly fits the shape of that person so that it is completely supported," Thompson explains. "We want to make sure that it fits in but also it represents the historic shape, and also the celebrity that was wearing it." Historic Royal Palaces / The Bute Collection at Mount Stuart Beatrice Farmer, textile conservator, is working on Lizzo's Thom Browne outfit. "It is a showstopper," she says of the golden thread embroidered into the moire silk and the accompanying beading. "It is a really good challenge working on this outfit." Gotham/Getty Images Farmer has even sourced — and spray-painted gold — a flute to mirror Lizzo's own prized instrument that she carried on the night. Farmer is using wire and other modeling like linen and pads to hold the mannequin to the correct shape. She is also tackling a couple of dents in the body, where it folded in slightly as the singer bent over, the conservators believe. "We're having to work to push it out a little," she adds. Libby Thompson inspecting the Andrea Grossi design. Simon Perry/©️ANDREA GROSSI Almost ready on a gold mannequin is the Lil Nas X outfit that Kaori Motaung, textile conservator, is preparing. With its flat-front, Grossi's design conjures up images of historic mantua shape — a tie-up that will be made in the exhibition. Michael Buckner/Penske Media via Getty The heavy material also needs to be able to stand as it is today for seven months — and Motaung has to ensure that, like some other outfits, gravity's natural pull doesn't make it sag and alter. Shown what looks like a light liquid stain on one shoulder, she smiles, "He had a good time." Historic Royal Palaces/Ian Serfontein The Oscar de la Renta gown Dunst wore for a Vogue photoshoot to promote her 2006 film Marie Antoninette has a big skirt, in an 18th century style, and a long train and is in a fantastic condition. The conservators hope it — and a stunning, flowing gold Giambattista Valli gown — will bring the atmosphere of how parties would have seemed in Kensington Palace, with women in their flamboyant outfits filling most of the floor space. The Oscar de la Renta dress worn by Kirsten Dunst. Simon Perry/©️Oscar de la Renta Archive Kate Middleton Wears Her First Tiara in Nearly 3 Years for Buckingham Palace Banquet — See the Pics! With the Coronation robes worn by Queen Elizabeth in 1953 in their care, and other outfits by modern icons like Princess Margaret and Princess Diana in their charge too, much of the conservationists work is to keep priceless items safe and preserved for future generations. "Our job is to kind of slow down the degradation of an object," Thompson adds. Historic Royal Palaces / The Bute Collection at Mount Stuart A remarkable loan from the Museum of Bath is the antique Silver Tissues Dress that Anne-Marie Britton is preparing. Dating from 1660 and created from cloth of silver, bobbin lace and parchment lace, it is a rare survivor of the kind — especially with its skirt intact. Strips of whalebone create the shape in the bodice. "For us, it's a privilege to work on this," Britton says. Silver Tissue Dress. Fashion Museum Bath Historic Royal Palaces' Libby Thompson is looking forward to revealing how the royals of more than 300 years ago have their influence today when the exhibit opens. "In the past, the Georgians would go to court to show off, show their status, show their wealth, show how important they were, and they would have fun with it by wearing these big dresses," she says, adding, "It was all very elaborate." Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more! "We don't really have that nowadays from the royal family so much — the red carpet has kind of replaced that. And celebrity culture is what we sort of look up to and what sets fashions. That's where celebrities use it as a stage effectively to show off their fame and their wealth." The Giambattista Valli dress that will be on display. Simon Perry/©️Giambattista Valli Paris The Crown to Couture exhibition — which comes as part of palace admission — opens to the public on April 5, 2023.