36 WI in Action

WI Life February 2012

Little Black Dress

WI members made the catwalk

their own at the Fast Fashion show


WI style icons wowed the audience at our

very own catwalk event at London’s Fashion

and Textiles Museum, demonstrating their

design flair and nimble fingers. More than

50 entries created by WIs were on show, with 35 women

modelling their take on the iconic Little Black Dress. It

was all in the name of the Fast Fashion campaign, showing

how you can make gorgeous but environmentally friendly

clothes from old outfits – even a wedding dress – or

recycled material such as food packaging and bin bags.

A dress made of old tights got the judge’s approval

in the ‘Remade or upcycled’ category. Winner Frances

Cowper Holzhausen of Wanstead WI, Essex Federation,

said: ‘Wow, I can’t believe it. I had such a wonderful

journey doing it, learning and exploring and sharing –

and so many people were involved because I had to ask

them for their old tights.’ Alison Baker of Ambergate WI,

Derbyshire, adapted her wedding dress, last worn 18

years ago, for the same category. She combined it with a

bubble dress found in a charity shop and added buttons

from her grandmother’s button tin, using the wedding

dress to create a full underskirt.

Evelyn Donnelly of WeyBay WI, Dorset, designed

the winning entry in the ‘Made from scratch’ section.

It featured a yellow envelope-style opening made from

curtain fabric and a secret mobile phone pocket. Her

daughter, Laura Mulhern, modelled the dress. ‘I’m thrilled

to pieces. It’s been a new adventure with the WI, we’ve all

had a ball doing it together,’ she said.

The judge’s choice for ‘Eco-friendly’ LBD was by Linda

Rowlands, of Belan WI in Powys-Montgomery. Linda’s

dress, worn by her daughter-in-law Kate, was made with

LBD.indd 1 13/01/2012 19:04

WI in Action 37

Right, clockwise

from top: the judges

with Margaret

Scott of Lane End

Evening WI, Bucks.,

and her bin bag

dress; WI members

show off their

creations; Frances

Cowper Holzhausen,

Wanstead WI, Essex,

wears an outfit made

from old tights

Facing page: (left)

the winning Ecofriendly

dress by

Linda Rowlands of

Belan WI, Powys-


modelled by her


Kate; (right) Laura

Mulhern wears

the winning Dress

Made from Scratch

by WeyBay WI,

Dorset Federation

wool from local alpacas, and features a detachable collar.

The show, in December, was an ‘amazing event’ , said

Lola, Baroness Young, one of the three judges. ‘This is

about social justice, about environmental justice. It's

about being able to have fun and frivolity but not at the

expense of the environment.’

Marylyn Haines Evans, Chair of the NFWI Public Affairs

Committee, said the creativity and enthusiasm of WI

members was inspiring. ‘There’s no way anyone can leave

here tonight without being inspired by what they’ve seen.’

The show was a last flourish for the Fast Fashion

campaign, which is coming to an end after 18 months

working to highlight the social and environmental cost

of cheap clothing; from the exploitation of workers to the

CO2 emissions involved in manufacturing, dyeing and

distribution, as well as the 1.2million tonnes of clothing

that ends up in landfill every year. But one thing is sure:

WI members have demonstrated their creativity as well as

their passion for environmental and social justice.

On the cover

Natasha Lacey, Vice President of Golden Triangle Girls WI,

Norfolk Federation, wears a dress made from old video

tapes. ‘We’re an eco-friendly group,’ she says. ‘We asked all

the committee to donate old tapes – no-one uses them any

more so it seemed like a great opportunity to recycle.’

Award-winning dresses

1. Remade or Upcycled

Winner: Frances Cowper Holzhausen, Wanstead WI, Essex

Runner up: Aspull & Haigh WI, Lancashire (modelled by

Sue Fernside)

2. Made from Scratch

Winner: WeyBay WI, Dorset (modelled by Laura Mulhern)

Runner up: Ashford in the Water WI, Derbyshire (modelled

by Caryl Heath)

3. Eco-friendly

Winner: Linda Rowlands, Belan WI, Powys-Montgomery

(modelled by Kate Rowlands)

Runner up: Margaret Scott, Lane End Evening WI,



Baroness Young, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on

Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion and Ambassador of the

Ethical Fashion forum; Lucy Siegle, author of To Die For: Is

Fashion Wearing Out the World?; Marylyn Haines Evans,

Chair of NFWI Public Affairs Committee.

For more images, search for ‘The WI’ on Facebook; for

details of the campaign, visit call 020

7371 9300 ext 213 or email:

LBD.indd 2 13/01/2012 19:05

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