100 YEARS – Fashion plates from back in the day

Alberni is in for a treat as Merlyn Patten of Qualicum Beach is coming in April with a special fundraising show, 100 years of fashion.

Winni Wiegand

Winni Wiegand

Fashion has always been a focus in civilization, but perhaps never more so than in the last 100 years. Merlyn Patten of Qualicum Beach will bring proof to the Alberni Valley next month with a special fundraising show, 100 years of fashion.

Patten has been collecting vintage clothing ever since she picked up her first two pieces at a friend’s antique store. She has pieces dating back to the 1880s. For the vintage fashion show and afternoon tea happening at Echo Centre, Patten has chosen pieces from 1886 to 2000.

The show may be on April 21, but tickets are on sale in advance only, this Saturday, March 24 at Echo Centre starting at 10 a.m. Tickets are $20 each and include tea, the fashion show and door prizes. People are encouraged to wear their own hats to win a prize.

The event will raise money for the Beta Sigma Phi’s legacy, which helps fund children’s programs at the AV Museum.

Patten’s piece from 1912 is a black ascot dress “and it’s absolutely fabulous,” she said.

It came from the United States by way of England.

Back in 1912, fashions arrived in Canada in a similar manner, debuting in Europe and gaining exposure in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Ladies’ Home Journal and Illustrated America. Store buyers made trans-Atlantic trips to the fashion capitals as the century progressed so women could see the fashions shortly after they hit the streets in Paris and London.

At the turn of the century social life in Canada was evolving and women required more and more fashionable clothing. In Port Alberni, many of the clothing pieces on display on the second floor are party pieces—good clothing only worn occasionally.

Not many of the everyday work clothes exist, centennial committee member Cathy Bagley said. They were usually worn until they were threadbare, then were re-purposed as pieces of quilts or patches for other clothing.

editor@albernivalleynews.com