Fashion and fiction in Chiswick – ‘A Sparkling Vintage Affair’

Image above: Library image of models on a catwalk from Freerange Stock

Sale of pre-loved designer clothes, with live music, afternoon tea, and a chat with celebrity authors Gaby Roslin and Adele Parks

“January can be so drear, and we wanted to capitalise on the Twixtmas urge to have a clear out” says Jacks Thomas.

The event organiser par excellence (London Book Fair, Bologna Book Fair, originator of the Chiswick Book Festival) is raising money for St Michael & All Angels Church charities, with a “sparkling vintage affair” at the church, involving fashion, cake, and a couple of celebrity authors, this Saturday (20 January) at 3pm.

In the best tradition of the Chiswick Book Festival, she will be talking to TV and radio presenter Gaby Roslin and novelist Adele Parks about their current books, but this time there is far more involved – a whole programme involving live music, a sit down tea, “complete with bubbly”, a catwalk fashion show of “vintage classics” and the opportunity to buy some pre-loved designer clothes to raise money for the church’s charities.

Sounds like a fun afternoon.

Image above: Prêt-à-Portea at the Berkeley hotel

“It’s meant to be like an afternoon tea at a posh hotel”

“It’s meant to be like an afternoon tea at a posh hotel – Prêt-à-Portea at the Berkley”, she says, “only it’s in the church”.

Prêt-à-Portea is ‘a playful and stylish selection of couture cakes inspired by designers from Victoria Beckham to Nina Ricci’, according to the Berkeley hotel’s website. ‘This season’s collection opens with a striking Versace gown, immortalised in vanilla mousse, Emmanuel sponge, a fig and plum compote, all topped off with a fashionable fruit tulle skirt.’

Jacks has gone one better. She is offering a Vanessa Bruno navy coat, an Ashish beaded skirt  and a cream silk blouse from Alexandra Shulman’s wardrobe, and biscuits made by Sarah Gronmark, Parish Council member and excellent cake maker; (she made a spectacular cake for playwright Michael Frayn’s 90th birthday, given to him at the last book festival).

Image above: Fashion biscuits by Sarah Gronmark

Calling in favours for charity

How does she come to have a Vanessa Bruno navy coat, an Ashish beaded skirt  and a cream silk blouse belonging to the longest serving editor of British Vogue?

“Oh, she’s a friend, I’ve known her a long time” she says airly. “It’s very generous of her, because she is hosting her own event a week later.”

Among the other designer bargains to be snapped up are clothes by  Christian Dior, Hardy Amies, Bruce Oldfield, and some Biba Originals. Jacks has had a big career in publishing, but other than being a keen follower of fashion, she has no professional connection to the industry, she says. I assumed, having not met her, that she was tall and willowy and and a natural clothes horse. She laughed.

“I am short and dumpy, but it doesn’t stop me appreciating the creativity of fashion.”

Images above: Vintage wedding dress and cream silk blouse and skirt from Alexandra Shulman’s wardrobe

Gaby Roslin is also a mate. Her book Spread the Joy came out in the autumn.

‘Celebrated TV presenter, storied radio broadcaster and beloved podcast creator – over the years, we have come to know and adore Gaby Roslin for her unbridled enthusiasm and infectious energy. Now, Gaby is on a mission to help others discover all the joy and fun that life has to offer’ says the book bumph.

‘In Spread the Joy, Gaby Roslin shows us how to live a more joyful life, one Tiny Task at a time. Whether at home, at work or on your commute, be inspired to find and create pockets of joy in your day.’

Images above: Gaby Roslin and Adele Parks promoting their books

Adele Parks, herself an upcycler according to Jacks, is now on her 23rd best-selling book – one a year since her first novel Playing Away came out in 2000, including Sunday Times Number One best-sellers Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck.

Her latest book, Just Between Us, is a thriller about the disappearance of a woman with a shocking secret – she is married to two men at the same time.

Tickets for the afternoon, which include afternoon tea and Prosecco, as well as all the entertainment, are £25.

The charities which benefit are two local based charities and one which operates overseas. The Upper Room is a front-line charity working with socially and economically disadvantaged people in West London. Crosslight Chiswick, based in St Nicholas Church, provides face-to-face debt advice, together with money education and budgeting support to individuals and families in need. Swinfen Telemedicine (Swinfen Charitable Trust) facilitates access to specialist medical expertise for doctors and nurses working in remote regions of the world.

If you are interested in buying clothes but don’t have time this Saturday to commit to a whole afternoon, you can buy a ticket on the door for £2 for the last 45 minutes – from 4.45 – 5.30pm. There will be changing rooms available to try on the clothes.

Tickets here: St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park

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