City's textile heritage on show

Its rivers used to run red with dye but on Saturday Norwich's rich textile history was celebrated with a cocktail of colours.

Its rivers used to run red with dye but on Saturday Norwich's rich textile history was celebrated with a cocktail of colours.

From the vibrancy of the Singapore Sling to the moody Black Orchid, a range of glamorous dresses were modelled around the theme of decadent drinks as part of a sell-out event to raise money for the Costume and Textile Association for Norfolk Museum Service.

Ladies across the county dug deep into their wardrobes to lend beautiful gowns and evening wear for the vintage fashion show, held at the John Innes Centre, which raises much needed funds for the association to support the collection.

And with more than 20,000 items dating from the 16th century to the present, including 600 shawls and 700 pairs of boots and shoes, it is considered of national importance.

Sue Ticktum, association chairman, said: “We do one big fundraiser a year which helps us to purchase things to add to the collection such as a Campin and Towler shawl which cost £7,500 - which was part funded by the V&A.”

The shawl was made by the major Norwich manufacturer as a showpiece for the Great Exhibition in 1851.

Most Read

“Some of the money from this event will go to fund a textile trail at the end of August which will be a walk around the streets of Norwich. It will take in places such as Elm Hill where the weavers were,” she said.

The bank holiday event will highlight the city's once buoyant textile history, culminating at the Maddermarket Theatre where the last flourish of the trade - the colourful Norwich shawls - will be displayed.

The association has 500 members and is still growing.

Mrs Ticktum added: “There is a tremendous interest in vintage clothing at the moment, probably because they are so colourful and women feel good wearing them. It is a glamorous look that people like.”

The collection was previously housed at Strangers Hall but is now stored in specialist facilities at the Costume and Textile Study Centre, at Carrow House, in Norwich.

Organiser Vivenne Weeks, association vice chairman, praised the volunteer models.

“They tried the dresses on in September but they haven't seen them since. They are not professional models but they are just as competent. They are amazing.”

Entertainment also included the Early Dance Group, which specialises in Mediaeval, Tudor, 18th Century and Regency.

It is hoped the fashion show, which was sold out a month ago, would raised about £1,500.