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Fashion show brings historical costumes to life at Winchester School of Art

Published: 
18 January 2002

Historical fashions will come to life at an unusual fashion show to be held on 23 January at Winchester School of Art (WSA). Costumes typical of the early 19th century have been recreated and will be modelled on the catwalk, along with historically-inspired modern garments.

The fashion show comes midway through the second year of a three-year project funded by the Clore Foundation in which WSA students are working with the National Trust to develop costume reconstructions for educational use at Petworth House and other National Trust properties.

In the first year of the project, two MA Museum Studies students from WSA worked with the National Trust's Regional Education Officer, Geoff Sully, a group of 11 and 12 year olds from The Herbert Shiner School in Petworth, West Sussex, and a team of National Trust volunteers.

Inspiration for the project arose from a painting at the National Trust property Petworth House in West Sussex. 'The visit of the Allied Sovereigns' by Thomas Phillips, depicts an event in 1814 when members of Europe's ruling families were invited to Petworth to celebrate - prematurely - the demise of Napoleon Bonaparte. The date of the painting coincides with the heyday of Petworth House and is a good starting point for children to learn how people lived, worked and dressed almost 200 years ago.

"The school children each adopted a character from the painting and made sketches of their costumes before our team of sewing volunteers started to make the different garments," Geoff Sully explained. "We aim to complete thirty costumes during the three years of the project, to be used at Petworth and other National Trust houses. The coat that the 3rd Earl of Egremont is wearing in the painting will be used as a model during the Turner exhibition at Petworth this summer. It's wonderful to see the characters in the painting come to life in this way."

The MA students, Gemma Reid and Lisa Kerley, worked with the school children to research the most appropriate costumes to represent the early 19th century, and also wrote and produced a resource book about the project. "The resource book contains practical advice and patterns for school teachers and anyone interested in history and fashion," Geoff said. "It's really a blueprint for making authentic costumes."

In the second year of the project, 23 BA Fashion students from WSA have continued working with the volunteers and the Herbert Shiner students on the accurate costume reconstructions, but have also designed and made contemporary clothing inspired by the same period.

A workshop will bring together the WSA students, the National Trust volunteers whose sewing skills are laboriously reconstructing the costumes and the children from The Herbert Shiner School. The Herbert Shiner students and the WSA students will act as models during the fashion show which follows.

The fashion show takes place on Wednesday 23 January at 1.00pm in the New Lecture Theatre at the Winchester Campus, University of Southampton, lasting approximately half an hour. Members of the public are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis. Please call Julia Bennett on 023 8059 7140 for further details.

Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.

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