Nine ladies dancing at Mottisfont in 2016

Two miniature ballerina dresses designed by Vin Burnham, standing in front of the ornamental mirror in the Whistler Room at Mottisfont, Hampshire

This article was about our Christmas activities at Mottisfont in 2016. We'll be updating this with 2017 event information later in the year.

From 26 November - 3 January, Mottisfont celebrates the Twelve Days of Christmas, with decorated rooms and gardens inspired by the classic song. Created by costume designer Vin Burnham, 'nine ladies dancing' are a highlight of this year's festive theme.

From the Sugar Plum Fairy to the Queen of the Night, each dress represents a dance costume in miniature, made in quarter-scale. Delicate crystals and sequins sparkle as they catch the light, above perfectly formed tulle tutus.

Beautiful creations

Every dress is lovingly hand-made by Vin, in collaboration with former tutu maker, Debbie Phipps.

" The sequins I use are from around the 1920s, some of which are made of gelatine. They are the most beautiful subtle colours and wonderful shapes including cogs and flowers. There are also some tiny bullion springs and little silver glass beads... I have a hoard of vintage ‘treasures’ I snap up on my travels whenever I get the chance!"
- Vin Burnham, describing the 'Lilac Fairy'

Costume design for stage and screen

Now an international award-winning costume designer, Vin started her career in prop making at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

She worked as a creature designer for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in London and Los Angeles on films such as Labyrinth and Never Ending Story III. She went on to design and create Aslan the Lion for the BBC's The Chronicles of Narnia.

Costume designer Bob Ringwood commissioned Vin to make the ‘Batsuit’ for Michael Keaton in Batman. She then moved to Hollywood to produce the Batsuit for Batman Returns.

In 1989 Vin headed the costume effects design team on the Luc Besson film The Fifth Element, with costumes designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.

Vin designed Lady Gaga’s animatronic ‘Living Dress’ for her 2010 Monster Ball World Tour. She has recently dressed Dame Helen Mirren, Carrie Fisher, Ving Rhames and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Inspired by Dior’s Theatre de la Mode, Vin launched 'The Little Costume Shop', a collection of these costume miniatures. Her collections have previously been exhibited at the Royal Opera House as well as at The Kennedy Center, Washington DC.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Mottisfont

Foliage, decorations and an ornamental urn on a marble mantelpiece at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Christmas at Mottisfont 

25 November - 2 January (excluding 24 and 25 December): we’re celebrating a colourful Christmas, inspired by the vibrant Kaffe Fassett exhibition in our gallery. Our house is dressed with statement trees and dramatic flower arrangements. Outside, artist installations emphasise the natural winter colours found around the grounds and estate, which families can discover with a fun-filled activity trail.