I am so proud of the workshops that we did in the Red Cross Tent at the Clarence House Garden Party To Make A Difference.
Goodness knows how we got it all together with the little time we had, but with incredible support from students and designers, as well as sponsors such as Janome, John Lewis and B&Q, we did it.
And it was a fantastic experience.
As for the LIVE UPCYCLE, scheduled for Saturday the 11th September, well, all I can say is that I wont be doing that again in a hurry, (I never knew being on stage could be so petrifying), although Lucy might have other ideas…
For starters, when Lucy Siegle and I first went to Clarence House to offer the NOI Collective services (the Noi Collective being Lucy Siegle, Livia Firth, Jocelyn Whipple, and I), and we mentioned that we were interested in doing a series of workshops and a Live Upcycle, we had but a vague idea as to what a Live Upcycle actually was.
We were clear about the workshops – fantastic designers sharing their methods and experiences with the public – but the “live upcycle event” was somehow, more … abstract.
Lucy, consummate professional, got going in writing the script, after we babbled a few concepts all together – like to involve the most experienced UK upcycling designers and get them on stage to play sewing machines instead of electric guitars, for instance.
Then we had to think of what actually we were going to sew, exactly.
And again, televisual Lucy, came up with the idea of upcycling Sinitta, and anything iconic from her 80’s wardrobe.
What can I say, she is a genius Lucy, and a very funny genius to boot.
And as she scripted away, we involved more and more people to take part – all who agreed absolutely blindly to possibly be completely humiliated on stage and talk rubbish, in this case, literally.
As the opening day drew closer, with the workshops beautifully organised by Elizabeth and ready to go with amazing designers (Elvis & Kresse, Enamore, Lu Flux, THTC, Alessandra Rigillo, Little Glass Clementine, From Somewhere) and an army of students from some of the UK’s best colleges ready at hand, our generous sponsors donated (all haberdasheries from John Lewis, irons and ironing boards from B&Q, and all sewing machines and overlockers from Janome) we proudly saw our concept taking shape and come to life.
On the first day of the event, Lucy and I had to do press.
I kind of thought we’ll be in a little room, a bunch of journalists will ask a few questions – what else can people expect from you at 8 am anyway?
Well, actually, what they expect from you at 8am in this kind of situation is a line up of 10 national and international live TV crews grilling you for 5 minutes each, followed by 20 photographers flashing away at a long celebrity line up, and me, pretty much the only civilian.
Vivienne Westwood was there, Jooles Holland, Alan Titchmarsh, and a few others I am ashamed to say I didn’t recognise.
Luckily I was flanked by Lucy and Sinitta, who were as relaxed as if they were having a cup of tea.
On Thursday I met HRH The Prince Of Wales. As you do, on Thursdays.
He came over to the Red Cross Tent during a workshop on jewellery upcycling, which was run by one of our new Estethica labels, Little Glass Clementine.
This time, support came thanks to Caroline Rush (head of the British Fashion Council) and Louise Carter, there to talk about the Sustainable Catwalk, also scheduled to take place at Clarence House, on the 17th of September.
And so it all rolled quickly into Saturday and the Live Upcycle.
Junky Styling (honestly, who else?) got to upcycle Sinitta’s outfit from her Toyboy album cover, and we used our usual scraps (generously donated by Dame Vivienne Westwood, Stella Mc Cartney, Sir Paul Smith and Speedo) and on stage with us we had the creme de la creme of the UK upcycling scene: Christopher Raeburn, Gary Harvey, Erin O Connor with Traid and John Paul Flintoff (revisiting his own homemade experiments as featured in his book Sew Your Own.)
It was anarchy on stage. Machines whizzing. Crazy hand stitching behind the scenes. And all of us, united in our cause to diminish landfill mass and re-use waste creatively.
It was absolutely, amazingly brilliant. Scary, mad, spontaneous, but brilliant.
I can’t conclude this report without thanking, from the bottom of my heart, all that took part, on stage and at the back.
Elizabeth Laskar and Jocelyn Whipple (bossy but adorable in keeping everything together backstage).
Our celebrity participants, enthusiastic, funny, relevant, talented, brave designers changing the way we look at fashion.
Lucy and Sinitta – the stars of the show.
Livia, texting frantically from the Toronto Film Festival (on duty there with husband Colin Firth).
Our models, Sarah and Emma – and Adam, our good looking assistant turned male model for the occasion.
Filippo and our film crew (Balthazar, Geoffrey and Ed).
All our interns and colleagues, frantically sewing away.
START, who gave us free reign.
And Aveda, who made us all look sleek.