People and Gardens Fashion Show Part 2

 Frocks, Wednesday March  Comments Off on People and Gardens Fashion Show Part 2
Nov 302014
 

Well, you were promised more pictures…

It’s always a bit of a gamble, using a bunch of friends as models rather than experienced professionals.  The first fashion show that Miss Wednesday did, proved that in no uncertain terms.  Some of the people asked, stepped up to the mark with alacrity and performed brilliantly, despite being stricken with terrible nerves and worrying themselves senseless about unnecessarily complicated choreography but a couple of others got plastered, messed around like over-excited teenagers and ruined a frock.  This time, two of the models actually choreographed the routine, one of whom was the most nervous last time and who would this time be leading the pack down the catwalk.  It proved an excellent strategy, because not only was the fabulous Miss Sara much more comfortable with the routine, she also ensured that despite the almost complete lack of rehearsal for everybody on the day (only Miss Sara and Mrs Alsop had actually done the routine before), everybody followed her lead and it went off almost without a hitch.  Certainly, one model got carried away with enthusiasm and took longer on the catwalk than her allotted phrase of music and the Stars of the Show took considerably longer than planned but they were doing such a wonderful job that it really didn’t matter, and Mrs A soon put things back on track.  It was just so obviously that they were all enjoying themselves so much and their enthusiasm certainly came through to the audience.

Ladies in 50s frocks

The Stars of the Show, Miss Julie and Miss Helen, flanked by Miss Tina and the Marvellous Mrs Alsop. Photo courtesy of People and Gardens CIC

The choice of music was, you must surely agree, inspired.  It had been causing Miss Wednesday a few headaches because she wanted something of an appropriate style for her frocks, ie swingy, but not too fast and definitely with a gardening – or at least floral – theme.  The best she could come up with was “In An English Country Garden”, which is pretty and not too fast and would have been memorable but just lacked the requisite swing.

Once again, Miss Sara took the bit between her teeth and ran with it, coming up with the perfect track.  Miss Wednesday had already considered the Floral Dance, but felt that the Terry Wogan version was just too ploddy.  Miss Sara said, “Ah yes, but the Matt Monro version is perfect.”  Seriously?  Matt Monro did the Floral Dance?!  Well, yes, it appears he did and he did it brilliantly.  It was the perfect track to use and, at 3 minutes and 20 seconds, about the right length.  Let’s face it, that’s a long time on a stage or catwalk and nobody wanted the audience to drop off or die of boredom.  And it would appear that nobody did.  The applause was thunderous, especially for the stars of the show, Miss Julie and Miss Helen.

Miss Wednesday did her very best to video the entire performance.  Unfortunately, despite her phone displaying the requisite symbols and red light to indicate that it was recording, it most certainly was not.  Hence the reliance on pictures from other sources for the blog posts…

Ladies on stage in 50s frocks

The full line up on the stage! Picture stolen from the Cornish Guardian.

 

Media coverage of the event was high and there’s a lovely article in the Cornish Guardian about it, complete with excellent pictures of both the Wednesday March girls and the other designers involved.  It’s slightly misleading in that it says that all the designers were from Plymouth College, which most certainly wasn’t the case, but the pictures are fabulous.  All in all, it was a wonderful event and one that raised over £5,000 for People and Gardens, which is not to be sneezed at.  Maybe they’ll consider doing it again next year…?

Nov 232014
 

Six months in the preparation and now it’s all over…

Last night was the long awaited fashion show at the Eden Project, in conjunction with various local designers and educational establishments in aid of People and Gardens.  It may come as a bit of a shock to hear that all the Wednesday March frocks were finished by 5.30pm on Friday 21st.  This is either some sort of a record or, as is widely suspected, Miss Wednesday was kidnapped and replaced with an alien.  She is never finished with time to spare.  It was all a bit strange.

Mrs A turned up at the allotted time with an appropriate vehicle (borrowed from her husband), plus a wodge of  printed order forms and some wonderfully displayed fabric samples.  Miss Wednesday had packed the frocks and petticoats (and the assorted bits and bobs that would have been needed if she hadn’t taken them) and everything was duly loaded into the car.  Miss Sara, Miss Jane, Miss Tina and Miss Sarah all turned up and it was time to go.

Three cars travelled in convoy to the Eden Project and then promptly got lost.  It’s a rather large place with a lot of car parks but no obvious signs of the stewards we’d been told to locate.  Various routes were tried but nary a parking steward was seen.  It turned out, after a slight altercation with a very long, very bendy bus and an “Authorised Vehicles Only” road, that the parking stewards had misunderstood their instructions and weren’t turning up until much later.  But Miss Wednesday and Miss Tina got out and walked to find help and appropriate guidance, armed only with a pashmina and a small stash of TicTacs.  Thanks to their bravery – it was getting a tad chilly, even if it wasn’t quite the below zero temperatures that Miss Wednesday was bleating about – eventually People Who Knew Stuff were located, everybody got to the right place and everything was unloaded.  (Miss Lucinda and Miss Zoe were already there, having had no such navigation problems.)

There followed a few hours involving heated rollers, make-up brushes and a lot of standing around.  No, the bar was not open but Miss Wednesday did ascertain from the barman that there was a good supply of gin.  More on that later…

 

One tiny rehearsal  for the WM models was squeezed in at about 6.30pm, despite every other designer having their models poncing up and down the catwalk for ages but no choreographed routine to learn.  Mrs A was a tad savage about that as she and Miss Sara had worked very hard on that routine and, naturally, they were worried that timings might go to pot in the actual show as most of the models had no idea what was going to happen and some hadn’t even heard the music.

Wednesday March was the third designer to show, after quite of lot of “asymmetric” knitwear and, er, scarves.  Oh, and a rather weird yoga/deportment lecture from one designer.  Much hilarity now ensues with members of the Petticoat Club whenever scarves or “zipping up” are mentioned.  You had to be there…

Then it was time…

 

Model in halterneck cherry print frock

The newest WM model, Miss Sara, in a Leah frock in pink and white Japanese cherry blossom print. Over a purple petticoat. Stunning!

 

What?  You want pictures of the actual show?  Ah.  Yes.  Well.  Er, later.  Miss Wednesday isn’t renowned for her prowess with anything like a camera and did her very best to take actual video of the show rather than mess up a lot of pictures.   She swears it said it was recording and the red light was on.

Fortunately, there were plenty of official photographers and people videoing it so there will be better pictures in due course.  Including ones of the models who stole the show, the lovely Miss Julie and Miss Helen from People and Gardens, who raised the biggest cheer of the night.

To be continued…

 

Miss Wednesday Likes A Challenge

 Costuming, Frocks, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Miss Wednesday Likes A Challenge
Aug 312014
 

Back in the days of owning The March Hare in Looe, I used to hear a fair number of slightly puzzled people outside the shop window commenting, “Is it a fancy dress shop?”  Well, yes, some of the dresses are pretty fancy…  This scenario could go one of two ways; either I bridled with outrage and poured another gin or I shrieked with laughter and, yes, usually poured another gin.  On one occasion, I stuck my head around the door, smiled sweetly and said, “And you’ve come as…?” because the “offender” was just so badly dressed that I simply couldn’t resist.  Ah, happy days…

I also have plenty of customers who come to me because they are going to a party with a retro theme, usually wartime or 1950s, and need help or inspiration.  Quite often they’ll utter the legend, “I don’t want to spend much” and then be so overcome with delight when I produce a frock that makes them look better than they had imagined possible that they spend a fair old whack of money and announce their intention to come back for more and wear retro styles “every day”.   Proper job!

But then there are the “other” customers.  The “special” customers.  The ones who feel that I am the one to help them with their “project”.   No, not those customers, I’m talking costuming.  And I’m smiling, because costuming is fun, majorly creative and challenging.  I love it.  Bring it on!  The main constraint is usually budget but on a decent project that just adds to the challenge.

Back in 2011, I was approached by a good friend about a frock for her to wear for a storytelling epic, Return to Lyonesse, and so the Drowned Dress was created.  The brief had been “colours of the storm, forests under the sea, strawberries under the sea, Celtic/mediaeval, a bit Pre-Raphaelitey…”.  Fabulous.  The first ideas involved vast amounts of embroidery and a projected cost of about £16,000 with a lead time of, er, probably at least a century.  So we shelved that and went fabric shopping.  The resulting haul of shot taffeta and dreamy Liberty-print silk chiffon removed the requirement for embroidery as the art nouveau motifs on the chiffon provided the imagery of the drowned forest and the hugely talented Claire Morris of Rowanberry Designs created the perfect glass strawberry beads to take care of that part.

Harpist wearing purple mediaeval style frock

The lovely Barbara Griggs on stage in Callington.

It was a wonderful project to work on and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Harpists do enjoying giving me a challenge as I’ve also been called upon by one to recreate a “Regency Wonderbra”, ie a the piece of Regency underpinning that created the shelf-like bust so evident in portraits and costume dramas of that period.  Corsetry is fun and whilst I don’t usually make “normal” corsetry – I can source excellent examples off the peg to fit most people – I do enjoy doing historical corsetry, which can’t just be bought ready made and is essential to give the correct shape and look for serious reenactors and historic productions.

But the latest brief is something else.  It involves, once again, a harpist (honestly, all you have to do is lift a rock around here and out crawls a bird with a cheese grater masquerading as a musical instrument) and the theme of “Celts and Cowboys”.  It’s a Cornish event so images of Cornish tartan are scrolling through my brain, whilst the budget screams in panic because even the poly-cotton varieties don’t come cheap.  Obviously Dolly Parton is in the mix, although the performer in question isn’t what you’d call “well endowed” in that region (in fact, if you patted her on the back in the dark to find out which way she’s facing, you’d probably be none the wiser).  Cowboy boots?  Celtic ribbons?  Colours?  There’s a kind of sea and fishing element, too.  Oh, and a lead time of, er, just under three weeks with all the stuff for the Goodwood Revival to be done for the preceding weekend.  No pressure, then.

But guess what?  Challenge accepted.  Watch this space.  Oh, and there may be colourful language and some screaming.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Favourite Places: The Harbour Cafe, Looe

 Favourite Places, Frocks, Shoes, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Favourite Places: The Harbour Cafe, Looe
Aug 032014
 

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Miss Wednesday “doesn’t get out much”.  Well, last Sunday, she did.  There is a glaring lack of blog post for the Sunday past because she was up at sparrow’s fart (to use the vernacular) and off down to Looe on a mercy mission.  One of her favourite people (Mrs A) owns and runs one of her favourite places (the Harbour Cafe in East Looe) and on this particular Sunday, Mrs A was shy of a waitress.  Now, when the situation came to light on the preceding Friday, they’d discussed the lack and it was agreed that the very idea of both Mrs A and Miss Wednesday working in tandem in role dealing with Joe Public was very probably a nightmare waiting to happen.  Or, at the very least, a jolly good hour’s entertainment on Trip Advisor the next day.  Naturally, when Miss Wednesday offered her ‘services’, Mrs A immediately took her up on it and the world held its breath.

Last Sunday dawned dry but slightly overcast, which was a relief to many after the heat of the day before.  Looe was beautiful and quieter than normal.  Miss Wednesday showed up wearing her ninth best retro dress and was given an apron that almost fitted her.  She was also wearing high heels with a platform.  For waitressing?  Madness?  Well, no.  Miss L Fire pineapple heels are one of the most comfortable designs on the planet and Miss Wednesday is lacking slightly in the height department.  Without a platform, there was no way she was going to be able to reach the cupboards.  As it was, she had to ask Mrs A to fetch the teapot and milk jug.

Woman in blue dress and apron attempting to move a chair

As summer Sundays go, it was a pretty quiet one, although there were plenty of holiday makers who were making return visits, which is always a sign that a cafe is doing something right.  Miss Wednesday explained to people that it wasn’t her normal occupation so if they heard screaming, bad language or dropped plates, to please feign deafness.  Mrs A explained that Miss Wednesday’s usual mode of communication was sarcasm and that if they detected any, to just ignore it as it wasn’t meant unkindly.  Business ticked over, no plates were dropped and nobody appeared to leave in high dudgeon.  Although we haven’t yet checked Trip Advisor…

It was a nice change for Miss Wednesday to work alongside Mrs A.  Usually, she’s a customer at the cafe, indulging in her twin occupations of gossip and scoffing, whilst attempting to imbibe as much coffee as Mrs A will allow, knowing full well what is likely to happen when the hag is fully caffeinated.  (Don’t ask.  You really don’t want to know.)

From the title of this post, you’ll have guessed that Miss Wednesday is a bit of a fan of the Harbour Cafe.  That may well be an understatement.  It’s a constant thorn in her side that she no longer works in Looe and cannot, therefore, justify going in every day for breakfast.  There’s a lot to be said for a proper, down to earth, cafe that serves proper, down to earth, freshly cooked grub and when one comes with a built in view as spectacular as this

Looe harbour with Cornish pilot gig

it takes a lot of beating.  And if you visit on a day when there’s been a staffing crisis and Miss Wednesday has stepped into the breach, you may well get a decent class of insult thrown in for free as well.  Proper job!

The Harbour Cafe is to be found on The Quay, East Looe, PL13 1DX.  Open from 8am (9am on Sundays) until 4pm ish in the summer and closing earlier in the winter when everybody hibernates.  It’s right next door to the Harbourmaster’s Office and therefore doesn’t flood.  Canny, huh?