Gateshead’s inaugural Q Festival is well underway, taking place in a traditional spiegeltent structure that’s been erected right in front of The Baltic on the Gateshead side of the Milennium bridge, perfectly positioned for some epic photographs of some of the best North East landmarks
The timetable for the festival is brimming with awesome and unusual activities for the whole family to enjoy and I was invited along to a fun fashion session called Glitz and Glamour with Costume Historian Meredith Towne. Admittedly I didn’t know a lot about what to expect from the session or what it might entail, but as a fellow Fashion Historian, I was definitely intrigued.
I arrived ahead of schedule to get my first proper look at the spiegeltent and true to Deutsch tradition, it was a solid structure with mirrors all around the outside. Guests were treated to a popup shop from vintage reseller Trendlistr and crafty goodies from The Crafthood. One thing it’s worth telling you early on is that the light in the spiegeltent was geared up for a performance so not that great for taking photographs, hence the poor quality of my images. Bloody bollocks.
Costume Historian and Dressmaker Meridith Towne took to the stage in a 1920’s style dressing gown with her hair pinned in low rolls and from the moment she first spoke I was riveted. Speaking eloquently and confidently about fashion through the decades in a way that demonstrated not only the fashion that you would typically see, but also the circumstances and social and financial climates.
Towne’s collection of original vintage and hand made gowns is impressive to say the least. Personally collected, found, and rescued, her vintage wardrobe includes beautiful original pieces such as Juliette caps, flapper dresses and original stilettos (by their intended and true definition). Towne offers the audience a chance to get up close and personal with the collection at the interval answering questions and making tongue in cheek jokes about her charismatic “glamorous assistant” who doubles up as her mum.
We’re guided through each decade from the 1920’s to the 1970’s with precision, detail and even a little audience participation with Towne’s signature panache. It’s hard to describe just how incredible this ‘show’ is because I don’t really know how to categorise it. Somewhere between a talk, a history lesson, a performance and a play, it hits the spot when it comes to getting an insight into how fashion was used to express femininity throughout time and you definitely leave feeling like you learned something, albeit in a super fun way.
From the rebellion of the 1920’s to the end of rationing in 1947 and into the 50’s, Towne’s Glitz and Glamour show includes every major fashion trend synonymous with the decade it appeared in and even a few more. As a speaker she’s fantastic, engaging from start to finish and very well informed, her ability to pull together a complete, era specific outfit is astounding and the part she plays when on stage only serves to add artistic flair and aids delivery superbly.
I was kindly gifted to tickets to the event because the organiser thought it was right up my street and she wasn’t wrong. With a face value of £15 per ticket, if you’re a fan of fashion, whether vintage or modern, it’s well worth that and I’ll definitely be looking out for the next in Towne’s series of shows on vintage fashion.
Towne tours the U.K. With History Wardrobe delivering ‘shows’ on a range of topics within the vintage fashion genre including The Art of Power Dressing, 100 Years of Hats, Victorian Lady Cyclists, A History of Shapewear and lots more. If she’s coming to a town near you then buy a ticket Voyeurs, I promise you you won’t be disappointed, this was one of the best events I’ve been to in a while.