News & Events – Fashion & Fabrics

Zandra Rhodes – 25th October 2019

After our usual coffee and cake! Our fashion and fabric group visited the Zandra Rhodes exhibition, 50 years of fabulous. This was held at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey Street London, which Rhodes founded in 2003.  This is now owned by Newham College.

Dame Zandra Rhodes style is considered zany! Her notoriety as a print designer plus her eye for fabrics and colour, is without doubt her trademark. She creates some very individual designs. One dress is called Punk Bridal Ensemble which apart from safety pins and chains! also has “ornamental holes “!!  Interesting!

Rhodes always carries with her a sketchbook, and gets many of her ideas when travelling abroad. Some of her sketchbooks and drawings are available to view, and she has also designed for opera, in both Aida and The Pearl Fishers she created both the costumes and the sets.  Some of these costumes are in the exhibition .

After the museum we were ready for our late lunch, and before you knew it, back on the train!!

A lovely fun day with lots laughter!

Colour Me Beautiful – 27th September 2019

On Friday 27 September a group of us enjoyed a demonstration by Jocelyn from Colour Me Beautiful. The afternoon, which was well attended, was hosted by Linda, who was the first to be critiqued by Jocelyn regarding the colours she was wearing. Linda obviously has good taste as the black patterned dress and cerise bolero were well received by Jocelyn; others of us were less successful in our choice of colours and style.

Some of our group had brought along clothes they never wear and with Jocelyn’s guidance were shown how to wear them to best enhance their look. However one clothing piece, fully endorsed by its owner, was definitely heading to the charity shop!

Some of the group said they would never wear a certain colour but it was interesting to learn that different shades of colours may enhance our look. This was demonstrated through scarves we had been asked to bring along and colour swatches that Jocelyn provided.  It was also particularly helpful to be shown how height and shape can be used to help us look our best.

It was an entertaining afternoon complemented at the end by tea and a delicious variety of cakes provided by Valerie.

Leigh Estuary U3A Fashion groups were given the task of buying an outfit from a charity shop that they felt looked good.
15 members amazed us, some of them even got accessories such as handbags, jewellery and wraps to go with their clothes . The average cost of the outfit alone was £9.39! All members did fantastically well, no one would know these items came from a charity shop.
The members modelled their purchases down the cat walk and were then interviewed to explain where they had bought their clothes and how much they had cost. Receipts for proof of purchase were provided.
The Fashion Groups proved you can look good and wear good quality clothes for very little money and certainly all the members said they would wear their outfits in the future.
After having their photographs taken by a member of the photography group, everyone sat down for tea and cakes in wonderful sunshine. A great afternoon.

Royal Opera House – Costume Store

On Friday 28 June 2019, the Fashion & Fabric Group and guests visited the ROH building in Thurrock. Our host, Graham and two ROH volunteers gave us a brilliant tour.

We all set off in our high viz jackets and were amazed at the set building site, it is so huge that they can build a set and check that it will go through the massively high doors at the Royal Opera House. The coding system for the set was so clever too, once built, the set builders at the main house can put it together in a very short space of time. The highlight of the day was being let loose in the costume store!! It was mind blowing that so many amazing costumes were there, also wonderful boots, shoes, wigs (we were shown one that was made for Darcey Bussell). Seeing how they store the beautiful tu-tus was interesting as was the storage of the cod pieces!!!

The icing on the cake was meeting the main costume maker, a lovely lady, who obviously was so clever and so creative. The tu-tus for the corp de ballet are made at Thurrock under her watchful eye but the leading actors’ costumes are made at the ROH in London. They offer apprenticeships in set building etc and degree courses in costume design and making.  Joan and Linda organised, yet another, great day out.  SS

Christian Dior

Eleven of us went on the 3rd of June to the V&A for the long awaited visit to the Christian Dior exhibition. It was well worth the wait, such beautiful feminine dresses and so diverse. The sketches and the videos brought another dimension, the videos bringing the dresses to life. The exhibition was well staged with lots of information.
We all enjoyed lunch together and some went to the shop and others to the Mary Quant exhibition , which I am sure was very different.

The Art of Kimono

A very interesting talk on Wednesday  22nd May at Saxon Hall introduced our group to the art of the kimono from court dress through to military dress.

Suzanne Perrin MA really knew her stuff and told us about the styles and designs (complete with slides) that wove signs and symbols into fabrics from the early 1600’s to mid 1900’s. Womens’ clothes (kimonos) denoted age, rank and status.

We saw a few examples of textiles and thoroughly enjoyed an excellent lunch which altogether made a  very good value day out thanks to Rayleigh U3A.
Warners’ Textile Archive

On Friday 26th April 2019, we visited Warners’ Textile Archive. The archive is a very interesting place and we were given coffee and biscuits while we listened to the very knowledgeable guide telling us the history of Warner & Sons and showing some examples of patterns and materials used. Warners dates back to Benjamin Warner, a direct Huguenot descendant of William Warner of Spitalfields in the late eighteenth century. With Royal patronage and beautiful silks Warner & Sons were commissioned to weave for some of the most prominent houses, castles and cathedrals in England.

At the end of our visit we relocated to a lovely family-run restaurant for lunch and the staff set a table for twelve with only ten minutes warning. Another successful trip.

Clarins in Debenhams

The Fashion and Fabrics group diversified slightly on 22nd March by attending a make-up demonstration at Clarins in Debenhams.

The young ladies demonstrating were very obliging and supplied us with bucks fizz and nibbles whilst they told us about their
products and then proceeded to ‘make-up’ Carole, she looked lovely and said she felt very comfortable. We were all supplied
with ‘goody’ bags to take home and agreed it had been a very worthwhile exercise.
Make up Demonstration

Fashioned from Nature – 25th January 2019

We were very low on numbers for this visit with quite a few members, or their other halves, unwell. The five of us that managed to go to the V & A for the ‘Fashioned from Nature’ exhibition had a very enjoyable day. Not quite knowing what to expect, we were amazed to see the different materials that were used in textiles to make lovely outfits using such bizarre things as ‘banana skins, reptile skin, horse hair and feathers’ as well as the usual silk and cotton.

There is a lovely restaurant in which we had a very good lunch and later on a ‘cuppa’. Another successful day.

Fashion & Textile Museum – 9th January 2019

A few photos from our most recent day out.

Ten of the Fashion and Fabrics group went again to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see an exhibition of clothes from the 1930s and photos from Cecil Beaton’s collection. This multi-talented photographer was one of the most celebrated of his time. He had his first one-man show in 1927 at the age of 23 and continued until his demise in 1980.

After gazing longingly at the fabulous gowns on display we went off for a very pleasant lunch. Once again, a very good day out.

Azzedine Alaia

On Friday 28th September 2018, the intrepid Fashion and Fabrics group set off from Leigh station on their second ‘awayday’. The Design Museum was the venue for this very talented Tunisian-born designers’ exhibition, and what an exhibition it was, the couturiers’ gowns are fabulous and so worth a visit if you have an interest in fashion. His creations have been worn by the likes of Greta Garbo, Grace Jones, Tina Turner, Naomi Campbell and Rihanna.

We enjoyed a very good lunch after which we all went our separate ways having had a very interesting day.

 Orla Kiely

On Tuesday 4th September 2018, Fashion and Fabrics group visited the ‘Orla Kiely’ exhibition at the Fashion and Textile museum in Bermondsey. The weather was kind, neither too hot nor too cold. The group consisted of Joan Murphy, Corinne Taylor, Valerie Holmes, Carol Wise, Esther Gilbey, Linda Tull and Linda Butler. We all enjoyed the exhibition and remarked on the wearability of lots of the dresses and remembered wearing similar outfits in our ‘younger’ days and also brought back memories of ‘Biba’ and ‘Laura Ashley’. We then made our way to Hay’s Galleria for a very nice lunch, pleasant surroundings, convivial company. A splendid day out.