Fashion and Fairytale

Fashion – Fashion and Fairytale

Fashion and Fairy Tale: An Exhibition

“I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.” —Ralph Lauren

In celebration of Bath’s status as a leading historical centre of fashion, and home to the renowned Bath Fashion Museum, which houses iconic attire from the 18th century to modern day – we are excited to announce a community project and gala exhibition, entitled, ‘Fashion and Fairy tale’, to be held in the Assembly Rooms in August 2020. 

Taking inspiration from the 2012 Ball-gowns: British Glamour since 1950 exhibition at the V&A, as well Bath’s heritage of grand balls and assemblies, this exhibition seeks to use the concept of fantasy and fairy tale to inspire local schools and colleges to create ball /prom gown designs, around their own individual interpretation of what ‘fairy tale’ means. Funds will be provided for the winning designs to be made up and exhibited. We also hope to find sponsorship from local businesses to help promote this exciting event.

As a starting point, local fashion designer Cindy Beadman, whose clients included royalty and celebrity, has agreed to display a retrospective collection of her work, alongside those of the winning entries. The exhibition will be complemented by a ball gown borrowed from Bath Fashion Museum’s collection, as well as images of her iconic fairy tale ball gown that caused such a stir during the V&A exhibition. 

Framed by the hardship of her own life as a game-keeper’s daughter and her subsequent fairy tale rise to success as an international fashion designer in the 1970s and 80s, her designs fuse together her deep love of nature and sense of beauty with a whimsical imagination and couture artistry.

In keeping with Cindy’s ethos of working only with natural fibres, we aim to encourage submissions that weave together style and fantasy with sustainability and ethical production. All winning creations will also feature in the memoir of her life in fashion, to be produced for the occasion.

Looking to embrace as many children as possible from the larger community, we want to encourage entries from all ethnic or social backgrounds, including specialist schools, providing they use nature and fairy tale to inspire their creativity.

Primary children will also be encouraged to participate with their own unique fairy tale project, that may include story writing, drawing and making. To help stimulate their imagination, they will be introduced to the story of the magical, ‘Mistress Make-Believe,’ (who’s gown will be kindly made available for viewing at the Fashion Museum throughout the project). Visits can also be arranged to the see the nature collection at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.

All winners will be announced during the summer term of 2020 with winning creations, designs and stories etc., being displayed in the Octagon Ballroom and Restaurant of the Assembly Rooms.

Come and take part in this thrilling celebration of the imagination – a community event that is guaranteed to lift everyone’s spirit.

The inspiration for this project came about from my deep love of nature. As a gamekeeper’s daughter who grew up in the woods and fields, I was aware at a very early age of a profound connection to the wildness and beauty all around me. This naturally awakened my imagination as well as a sixth sense, with which I was able to perceive magical nature creatures and fairy beings, who showed me where to find to find such wondrous things as lost treasure, six-leaved clovers and the very first spring flowers.

It was this heightened sensitivity and enhanced sense of beauty, with its all-embracing mystical connection to the ‘whole’, that has informed every creative impulse of my life, whether through my writing, my art work, my interiors or my fashion designs. Moreover, in later life, after a serious debilitating illness, it also led to my practising as a healer and counsellor with doctors at the ‘Bristol Cancer Self Help Centre’, as well as here in Bath, where I created a glittering healing grotto for children. This was featured numerous times on television in connection with my work.

Indeed, that overwhelming search for beauty, together with my boundless imagination, was a major influence in the way I worked during my years in fashion. Consequently, I had to develop unique dying techniques to create the colours and affects I wanted. It also entailed inventing ever new methods of constructing or stitching a garment, especially from such fragile fabric as silk habotai, that had never been used for clothing before. My vision obviously worked, as buyers often told me that although their customers could not afford my designs, they would come to see my collections just to cheer themselves up.

A sentiment that was summed up by an article in the Sunday Times, featuring one of the designs from my first collection in which the caption read, ‘Cindy must be a Celt, Mid- summer Dream clothes, dresses as heirlooms to wear and wonder at for years to come.’ Fortunately, there were enough affluent stars and celebrities around the world to sustain aflourishing business in the seventies and eighties. In fact, one of my favourite buyers, who used to tie a fresh flower to her finger, and who owned the most exquisite boutique in Rodeo Drive Los Angeles where many of them shopped, was so inspired by my designs that
she always wrote a poem to go with her chosen pieces.

With such an appreciative market for my work, how could I not be inspired to give full reign to my prolific imagination – something I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to do, even if it was cut short by illness. It was that sheer joy and utter freedom of letting the imagination soar to its most luminous transcendent heights that I wanted others to experience. This was the well spring and heart
centre, of the ‘Fashion and Fairy-tale’ enterprise.

Cindy Beadman Ballgown

“Fairy-tale gowns: you shall go to the ball”… The Independent’s look at the 2012 V&A exhibition