Everyone looks good in a hat like this, Ladies and Gentlemen. Well, everyone apart from Dolly Parton to whom we’re currently listening. None of these hats is compatible with a wig or large hair piece.
With these words Matthew Dennison introduced the hundreds of guests who enjoyed the runaway success of the Moreton Hall Charity Fashion Show to the remarkable millinery of Edwina Ibbtoson. At the end of a day which included one of the designer’s cars breaking down on the M6, the mysterious disappearance of the smoke machine and the guest appearance of Marigold the Pekingese, the show was a storming success.
Guests from across the country enjoyed drinks, dinner and the show itself. It began with the Show Choir’s lovely rendition of 1000 Years.
‘We’re couldn’t believe it, it was a complete sell out,” said organiser and sixth former Olivia Holroyd. “The audience loved it. It was such a wonderful feeling, coming down the catwalk with everyone clapping. It raised a huge amount of money for charity but it also gave girls a lot of confidence. We tried to persuade people to take part who wouldn’t necessarily do something like this, people we thought might need a boost. And it worked!”
It worked because the girls at this small school have a big vision. They persuaded a number of London designers responsible for dressing HRH the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa Middleton to bring their clothes to north Shropshire. And the hard work paid off.
Olivia Holroyd headed up organisation for the Moreton Enterprises input. ‘We were lucky that milliner Edwina Ibbotson brought not only her hats but exquisite dresses and coats by royal designers Suzanne and Alison Rodgers. We also had coats and jackets by Katherine Hooker, a favourite of both the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall. It was incredibly generous of these designers to lend us so much.’
Keen to keep an eye on key trends, the girls also chose to broaden their remit and include vintage pieces as well.
‘We contacted vintage fashion specialist Nina Burden of 55 Mill Street in Ludlow. She agreed to bring a selection of pieces by iconic designers like Jean Muir and Ossie Clarke. We couldn’t believe how gorgeous they are – everyone looked marvellous.”
But the stars of the show were the girls. As they sashayed down the catwalk to the sounds of Eartha Kitt’s “I’m Just an Old Fashioned Girl” and Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five”, the audience erupted. The models may have been were volunteers from Lower 5 up to sixth form: in every way they were staggeringly professional.
Now, through this distinctly glamorous fashion show, girls raised to be divided between the school's own charitable foundation – which provides bursaries and scholarships for girls from a range of backgrounds – and Hope House, the children’s hospice which provides essential support for children suffering from chronic diseases, and their families.
‘A lot of people at school have lent their support,’ Olivia says. “Edwina Ibbotson donated a £1,000 hat for the raffle and Katherine Hooker gave a £500 voucher for a coat. As a result the raffle alone raised £2000. “
It was an evening of fun, laughter and balloons. The girls performed with such extraordinary poise that it was difficult to remember that the day before half of them had taken part in a swimming gala or national public speaking competition. Rehearsals had been squashed into the odd lunch time. Yet thanks to their confidence and joie de vivre the result was a triumph.