Review of the exhibition and preview, 26th of October 2017
My Name Is Prince is, without question, an outstanding display of Princes stage costumes along with some beautiful guitars and a few other pieces of memorabilia. Unfortunately what it misses is catching the essence of the man himself.
The exhibition IS a must see for anyone with the slightest interest in Prince, especially from a fashion and style view point, but sadly many leaving the exclusive preview on Thursday evening voiced their disappointment in the displays lack of continuity and attention to detail. The exhibit does not run in chronological order and many of the displays mix eras. Several of the outfits that are displayed against a wall have stunning details on the front or back that can not be seen (for example the Graffiti Bridge leather jacket and the white jacket from 1993 with snake beading) Could these items not have been displayed with a mirrored background or better yet on a revolving podium? There is no mention anywhere of Princes philanthropy, beliefs or mentoring of other artists. And several people commented on the fact that some of the displays were not even put on the mannequins correctly, shoulders were twisted in places, trouser legs were uneven and cuffs were not turned back, can anyone imagine Prince taking to the stage in an outfit that was anything less than perfect?
A basic ticket at £25 (plus booking fees) offers good value for the chance to be up close to so many iconic items (and you do get up close, only in the VIP area where photography is allowed are all of the displays behind glass for most of the exhibition the displays are open). However It is questionable as to the value of paying an additional £35 for the VIP experience, true you get admission to extra areas and a short film of 21 nights concert footage (although most of you will have already seen this in better quality on YouTube) however you may well be disappointed with the "white glove" experience, as many were on Thursday evening. If you are told as a Prince fan that you are about to have a photo opportunity, wearing a pair of white gloves and holding one of Princes guitars your mind will, in no doubt, flash to the Glam Slam video where you witness the man himself resplendent in polka dots playing guitar whilst wearing a pair of white gloves. You may expect that you will have the opportunity to recreate this moment, maybe stood in-front of some of the Lovesexy costumes or a backdrop of YES hearts, prepare for disappointment. The exclusive photo opportunity takes place in the corner of the screening area and you take your own photo, no backdrop, no professional photographer. The most expensive ticket option was to last nights special preview evening, at £140 (plus fees) it was a hefty price (more than most concert tickets) but the promise of special guests in attendance and a goodie bag of Prince merchandise was enough to tempt 150 hard core "fams". Sadly the much hyped evening didn't live up to expectations for many, who were expecting band members and maybe even a performance of sorts. The special guests were in fact Princes sister Tyka and half brothers Omar Baker and Alfred Jackson. The goody bag was distributed at the end of the evening (if you went and asked for it) and comprised of a cotton bag that some had purchased in the gift shop earlier in the evening, a copy of Steve Parkes beautiful book Picturing Prince (which most people already had, although this version has an additional booklet with it containing the photos added to the US edition of the boo. There is no mention of this on the outside of the shrink wrapped book so if you received one do open it!)) and a VIP lanyard and laminate that will be part of the standard VIP tour. Several of the people we spoke to leaving the event felt mislead and disappointed (which are far from the feelings you normally associate with a Prince event).
Being able to study the workmanship and attention to detail of so many of these wonderful stage costumes is incredible and gives you a renewed appreciation of Paisley Parks wardrobe team. There are some lovely touches throughout the display. The main body of the exhibition features a symbol shaped "stage" with costumes and video screens around it. The lighting scheme here also features symbols twisting and rotating across the floor and displays, giving an almost concert like experience. Another highlight for many will be the cabinet containing notebooks and hand written lyrics, possible the most personal part of the display and the one part where you feel a little of the man rather than the image, one note book featuring the slogan "I'm not crazy, I'm creative" is sure to raise a smile.
A nice addition for the many who have not been able to make the journey to Paisley Park since Princes passing is a small replica of the chain fence at the studios where visitors to the O2 are encouraged to leave their own message or memento which organisers promise will be taken back to Paisley Park when the exhibition closes.
There is a gift shop at the entrance to the exhibit (you also get a chance to visit again as you leave and there is a second Shop on the lower level with the same merchandise) The Shop has a good stock of souvenirs direct from Paisley Park including shirts, hoodies, posters, tambourines, badges, books and mugs and more. A special mention should also be made to the staff both in the display and the Shop who were very polite and helpful.
The exhibition runs until the 7th of January 2018