News and Events – Fashion (Archive 2015)

Christmas Tea

The Fashion Group went to Mad Dogs and Englishmen for a jazz tea as their Christmas event.

As usual the members rose to the occasion dressed in lace and sparkling clothes. Pamela bought a selection of fans and Marilyn gave us all a scroll of how to use a fan to signify different meanings, we are now practicing! All this interest was prompted after a fascinating visit to the Fan Museum in November.

We all chatted constantly and joined in with a vibrant chorus of Happy Birthday for an elderly lady on an adjoining table. We applauded enthusiastically for Elisa Kiki Adams – her jazz singing was a delight.

Finger sandwiches, scones and a selection of bite sized cakes were consumed until we felt we had to breathe in to keep our outfits looking good!

Good wishes for Christmas and the New Year were meaningfully passed around the table between a group that has gelled so well over the past two and a half years.


Fan Museum

It was a cold, wet, miserable November morning when the `Fashionistas` set off for Greenwich. First stop, naturally, was for morning coffee and then onto the Fan Museum. It consists of 2 grade II listed Georgian townhouses which have been fully renovated to house the magnificent collection of over 4000 fans and fan leaves from around the world, from the 11th century to present times. Camilla, the curatorial assistant, guided us through the downstairs exhibition explaining the history of the fans and then upstairs we had the pleasure of meeting Helene Alexander, who, with her late husband, had founded the museum in 1991. She explained in-depth the various types of materials used, including lace, ivory, mother of pearl and tortoiseshell. Along with the history of some of the fans, she also explained the intricate designs and formats including the use of feathers. The whole experience was amazing and at a later date some of us hope to join the workshop for a 3 hour session in fan making. We thanked and applauded Mrs Alexander for her knowledge and in-depth explanations before leaving.

Next stop lunch and shopping and then home, all of us agreeing that it had been a thoroughly enjoyable day and `thank you` to Mary and Ruth for all the time and effort spent in arranging so many places of interest for the Fashion group to visit.

Marilyn Lyons

Brick Lane 27th October 2015

The Fashionistas went out for the day to Brick Lane to visit an exhibition of ‘Dressed By Angels’ in the Old Truman Brewery.

Since the late 1800’s and seven generations on, ‘Angels’ have dressed countless people on films, theatre and TV.

The collection showed a treasure trove of cultural history. In the mid 1800’s Maurice Angel started selling second hand clothes on a wheel barrow in Whitechapel. Clothes used to be bought from relatives of the dead. They then sourced costumes from theatrical performances and started selling them to theatres, but then realised they might make more money just hiring them out. This innovative idea has kept them in business for the past 175 years and is still flourishing today. You will see from the pictures the great selection of costumes they have sourced and made for many award winning films, plays and TV series.

After the exhibition one fashionista spotted a clothing outlet, so we rushed in to look at the bargains. We then went off to lunch in Spitalfields Market.

It was a very enjoyable and interesting day.

Pam Wood


A wonderful way to spend a day.

Our Fashion Group trips are always interesting but some are more exciting than others. This month’s trip, for me, was one of the best. We visited the Flower Appreciation Society, in De Beauvoir, Hackney, to make headdresses.
Ellie, the florist, showed us how to make these headdresses starting from covering a piece of wire and then choosing fresh flowers to attach to the wire. She was very patient and encouraging and we, sometimes with a little help, made an impressive assortment of arrangements. Attaching them to our heads sometimes proved a bit of a challenge but we all came away looking spectacular. This sounds conceited but for the rest of the day we wore our flowers and attracted a great deal of compliments. Walking along the canal to the restaurant, while we were having our lunch and on the train coming home people stopped to ask us about them, give us compliments and we got quite used to posing for photos. A wonderful day with great company.
Thanks Mary and Ruth

Pamela Walters

Alexander McQueen – May 2015

On a beautiful spring morning, eleven Fashionistas caught the 9.27 train to Fenchurch Street and then on to South Kensington. After a welcome coffee sitting in the sunshine, we made our way to the V&A. Passing through the main entrance into the grand building, one always feels very privileged to be there.

Our eagerly awaited trip to the Alexander McQueen exhibition, Savage Beauty, looking back at his career, did not disappoint. His work is arranged chronologically and thematically showing influences of nature, the East, Victorian gothic and nationalism.

The first salons showed his early work and displayed his great cutting and tailoring skills learnt in Savile Row and then Givenchy in Paris. They illustrated the classic shapes and perfect fit of his clothes, benefitting from his technique of looking at and designing them as much from the side of the body as the front and back.

The sometimes fantastical designs used not only beautiful conventional fabrics such as silks, satins and wonderful brocades, but leathers, pony hide, canvas, razor clam shells, glass, wood, metals, thousands of feathers and, probably, hundreds of thousands of beads. How many people took how long to sew all those on? But, underlying them all, are the tailored structured shapes, giving the perfect fit.

The creations are beautifully displayed – none less so than in the double height gallery resembling a catacomb where more than a hundred garments and accessories (including Philip Treacy hats and Shaun Leane jewellery) are exhibited in niches on the walls alongside screens showing footage of McQueen’s theatrical catwalk shows. Here we saw the difficulty some of the models had walking in the amazing footwear.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the hologram, first seen at the 2006 Paris Show “Widows of Culloden”, of the ghostly Kate Bush dressed in an organza gown floating inside a giant pyramid and set to the soundtrack of Schindler’s List.

It is a wonderful fashion exhibition, enjoyed by us all, and some of us agreed the best we have seen since our group started.

A tasty lunch rounded off a most enjoyable day. Many thanks to Mary for organising and to my fellow Fashionistas for their, as always, entertaining company.


Fashion on the Ration

On a bright sunny but chilly morning 12 Fashionistas headed for London. Their destination was The British War Museum on their way to The Fashion on the Ration Exhibition. All fine so far, first blip was a confusion at the Ticket Office – Pat sauced a 2 for 1 deal, 2 for 1 sounds quite simple, but not to the young lady behind the counter who became very confused. The Manageress was called and the “Cock Up” soon sorted out and Maggie received her £5 change.

The first stop was the Café for a well deserved coffee after the journey. Delicous cakes were bought and it was decided that the food looked good and we would return for lunch.

We moved upstairs to the Fashion on the Ration Exhibition. First we saw military uniforms and as rationing was introduced in June 1941 clothes manufacturers and woman had to be very innovative and creative and stretch their coupons to last the whole year. The Motto was “Make do and Mend”. Their wardrobe needed to be suitable for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Utility clothing came in, in l942. Clothing Coupons came in and the allowance was 66 a year (10 for children) which decreased as the war progressed. Clothes were expensive, with prices rising. Women would knit and make their own clothes and they were still expected to look good as this would keep up morale. Rationing continued until l949 and many of the changes brought about by war shaped the fashion industry for the future with the introduction of the department store as we know it today.

We moved on to the exhibition shops which contained many fun items which were a great hit with many of the fashionistas.

We made our way to the Restaurant where we managed to get a large table where we all sat round. Lunch was delicious and the conversation turned to online dating where there was much discussion and hilarity. We all agreed that it turned out a good day only marred by a near punch up on the way home. We stood all the way home in a Quiet Zone carriage, where one seated woman passenger kept turning round and telling us off for talking. Quiet Zone means speak quietly not don’t talk and do not use mobile phones..

Short and sweet

by Barbara Abrams

Fashion Group visit to Bohemian Chic exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, Bermondsey, 24th February 2015

Thea Porter had a very up and down career, flitting from one country to another and one party to another.Her fabric design choices were unusual for the times, but I was not surprised to read that she was unable to sew, as her construction was simple and no cutting skills demonstrated. Her BO HO CHIC showed in her early work and this was where her talent lay, using her exotic fabrics from the middle east. She seemed to be most active on the social scene, rather than an actual designer.

The highlight of the day was our encounter with Zandra Rhodes ,also visiting Bermondsey where the textile museum is located.

It was a fun day out, just an intimate party of 6, we all enjoyed our lunch at a new venue with thanks to Mary who does all the hard work

Barbara Zybutz

Knitwear Exhibition

We started the New Year very well with a trip to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see the Exhibition Knitwear from Chanel to Westwood. Some of the exhibits were nostalgic for many of us, although the knitted swimsuits were rather better than those of our memory! The Fairisle jumpers were much admired and we felt it was time they made a come back, again. Some of the designs were fascinating using different materials giving some surprising effects.
After the usual sortie to a well chosen restaurant for lunch we were off to the Design Museum for the Women Fashion Power exhibition. I expected a lot of oversized shoulder pads but other than the Dynasty exhibit all the clothes were more understated and elegant with a notable exception of a bikini of the 60’s. Interesting!
As usual a good day organised by Mary and Ruth, thank you.

Pamela Walters