Port Alberni’s vintage fashion group, the Centennial Belles, are set to hold their third fashion show next month. It will be the first time since 2015 that the Belles have put on a fashion show.
It might also be their last.
Visions of Vintage will take place on Saturday, Apr. 7 at the Echo Centre, presenting the fashions from 1945 to 1995. 20 models will show more than 200 outfits, accompanied by a slideshow, period music and informative commentary. All of the clothing is authentic vintage, and most of it has never been seen by the public eye.
Organizer Tricia Knight explained, “We’ve had some wonderful donations over the years. And some of them have never been shown.”
In 2014, the Belles put on their first decade show that spanned from the 1920s to the 1960s, and in 2015 they featured fashions from 1820 to 1920. For the next few years, the Belles put their efforts into organizing the Jane Austen Festival and attempting to break the world record for the most people dressed in Regency costume in one gathering.
“It’s been three years since we’ve done a show because we’ve been doing the festival,” Knight said.
The fashion shows take so much work to plan and organize, said Knight, that the Belles are tentatively planning for this to be their last. Knight and other organizers have spent the last few months sewing and tailoring, while models try on different outfits. Some of them will be changing up to ten times throughout the show.
“There are a lot of young people involved this year,” said Knight. “Almost half the people involved are under 25.”
The show is also a fundraiser this year, with all funds going towards the Justin Knight Foundation, which has been put together by Knight and her husband to raise awareness for immunotherapy for cancer.
Knight’s son, Justin, passed away from cancer only days before he was scheduled to undergo a surgery that was meant to prolong his life. Now Knight wants to raise awareness about genetic testing and treatment, so other families in her situation can make informed decisions.
“There are so many other options out there that we don’t know about,” she said. “We just want to create awareness for the options that are out there.”
Tickets for the show are $20, which includes table service, desserts and beverages. An elevated runway means that everyone in the audience will get a chance to see the fashions from all angles.
“There are no bad seats,” said Knight.
Saturday will have a 2:00 p.m. event and a 7:30 p.m. event, but Knight says the afternoon show sells out every year.
“We’re really pushing people to get tickets for the evening show,” she said.
As the models take the runway, Knight will provide an informative commentary to relate how fashions changed with the times.
“We have about 17 decades of clothing here,” Knight said. “So this starts just after World War II, when fashion just started to take off again.”
Some will be familiar with Christian Dior’s “New Look” of the late 1940s—a post-war attempt to revive the fashion industry, marked by big skirts, big hats and extravagant fabric. Audiences can also expect an apron brigade and a negligee brigade. The show will include everything from evening wear to power suits to hot pants and bellbottoms. Even maternity clothing will be featured, and a “surprise” finale will bring back some familiar fashions.
“People will remember these things,” Knight promised.
To reserve your tickets for the show, contact the Centennial Belles at www.centennialbelles.ca.