Students hit catwalk at WI’s celebration

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Model students showed a passion for fashion when they hit the catwalk for the first time.

Budding designers from Chesterfield College let their imaginations run riot to produce cutting-edge outfits from recycled men’s suits.

On the runway, 15 teenage students turned models epitomised the Inspiring Women theme as they strutted out confidently in traffic-stopping togs and killer heels.

But behind their masks, nerves rose higher than the hemlines as they lined up to parade along the catwalk.

Robyn Cox, 17, of Hopton Close, Ripley, said: “I felt very nervous looking out at the audience.”

Showcasing her own design of pencil skirt and crop top at the event, Robyn was modelling the handiwork of Rebecca Tunnicliffe, which included a blouse made from the lining of a jacket. Designer Rebecca, 17, of The Paddocks, Pilsley, said: “The models did really well.”

Saturday’s catwalk show was triggered by the Women’s Institute who gave the college £200 to buy men’s suits from charity shops and turn them into eye-catching outfits.

Lecturer Sara Laverick mentored the project involving first-year students on the Fashion and Clothing Exended Diploma BTEC Level III.

Their fashion-forward creations provided plenty of material for conversation among the hundreds of people attending the Inspiring Women day run by the Women’s Institute at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield.

Event chairman Janet Chambers, who is secretary of Cromford WI, said: “The students were one of the highlights of the day. They were really nervous, but they worked hard and got a very good reaction from the members.”

Spectator Barbara Dare, from Asterdale WI in Derby, said: “The clothes were very good, imaginative and really creative.”

WI members also turned models to parade their creations which had made the final of the nationwide organisation’s Little Black Dress competition last year.

Val Sidery and Caryl Heath, from Ashford in the Water WI, took to the stage to show their entry which came second in the dress made from scratch category. While Val described how the elegant shift dress could be adapted from office outfit to evening wear, Caryl showed how this could be done with the addition of a belt, ruched ruff, shoes and jewellery.

Alison Baker, from Heage, displayed her little black dress, which reached third place in the remade or upcycled category. She explained how she remodelled a bubble dress, adding buttons collected by her grandma and mum and trimming it with lace from her wedding gown. “I chopped my wedding dress to pieces - it was unique, a replica of a Victorian ballgown. I am still happily married after 18 years,” she said.

A member of Ambergate WI for three years, Alison, 48, said: “I joined the WI because I needed to make friends after moving back to Derbyshire. I have met my best friends through the WI.”

The former nurse, who has set up a fashion and textile art company, added: “Joining the WI has given me the confidence to be able to fulfil my lifelong ambition of working with textiles.“

The day, which included Traidcraft fashions, Fairtrade cookery demonstrations by Sainsbury’s representatives who donated a hamper to the raffle, belly dancing, zumba workouts and singing by the Aurora choir, was aimed at celebrating and showcasing the activities of the WI.

Event chief Janet Chambers added: “I thought it would be nice for the members to have something that they would enjoy. We hoped that the day would attract non-members to come and see what they are missing.”