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Kylie exhibition goes on the road

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MELBOURNE, Australia -- Last month Kylie Minogue launched her biggest-ever world tour.

Now a collection of outfits charting the Australian's transformation from teenage soap star to postmodern pop pin-up is also taking to the road.

Famous for her flamboyant stage performances, Kylie's "Showgirl" tour features a $2 million Art Deco-inspired set and outfits designed by Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano and Julien McDonald.

Shows in Europe, Australia and the Far East will lead up to a prestigious headline performance at the UK's Glastonbury festival in June.

But for Australian fans unable to get tickets for the sellout home leg of her tour in May and June, the touring exhibition of Kylie memorabilia may provide some consolation.

The collection, which features more than 300 items from the star's personal collection, was put together by the Arts Centre in Kylie's hometown of Melbourne.

More than 150,000 people have already seen the collection, making it the Arts Centre's most successful-ever exhibition.

Next month it moves to Canberra's National Portrait Gallery before heading on to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane and Sydney's Powerhouse Museum and then overseas next year.

The items chart more than two decades in Kylie's career, ranging from her teenage role in Australian TV soap "Neighbours" via her pop videos to big screen exposure in 2001's "Moulin Rouge."

Many pieces in the collection were donated by Kylie herself. And although there are plenty of designer labels among them, there are also a few items liberated from her parents' attic.

"The idea for this exhibition came about 18 months ago when we were contacted by Kylie's family to let us know she had made a decision to donate all her costumes to the Arts Centre," said exhibition curator Janine Barrand.

"We had no idea of how things would unfold and how big the collection would be. Whenever we received a consignment it was like Christmas opening it."

The collection is divided up into costumes from her videos and live tours, items worn for one-off performances such as the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and outfits worn for award ceremonies, premieres and other red carpet events.

The most eye-catching section looks at Kylie as an icon and includes her most memorable outfits, from the mechanic's overalls she wore as Charlene in Neighbours, via the white dress from the video of her first single "I Should Be So Lucky," to the gold hot pants from 2000's "Spinning Around" video, a song which many credit with re-launching her pop career.

"Kylie has always been an amazing performer the exhibition aims to capture some of that vitality and creativity," said Barrand.

That attention to detail has extended as far as producing mannequins to the famously diminutive singer's exact proportions.

"Many of them will be full figures so that we can show all the accessories and get the complete look. I have to say, it's almost like Kylie standing there -- they are really amazing," said Barrand.

While many items in the collection had spent years hidden away in boxes, the Arts Centre is determined that, having rehabilitated them for the exhibition, they should be preserved for posterity.

Museum staff wear gloves to handle the exhibits and between exhibitions the collection will be stored in air-conditioned comfort.

That is something for which Kylie herself is grateful. "I am sure that the pieces will tour all over but to know that when they come home they will be taken care of here in Melbourne makes me feel very proud," she said when the exhibition opened.

But with the exhibition set to take to the road, it's unlikely they'll be locked away for long.

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