Ruth Povell and Lois Hennes celebrate winning a the IMAGinE award for their innovative Frock Club.
Ruth Povell and Lois Hennes celebrate winning a the IMAGinE award for their innovative Frock Club.

Discover the true value of dressmaking

A SMALL museum in Alstonville has been stirring up a passion for fashion and patterns of a bygone era.

Two year's ago Ruth Povell and friend Lois Hennes, both pattern engineers, started The Frock Club as a way of bringing the fashions at the Crawford House Museum out of back rooms and alive for new generations.

The program saw interested fashion lovers of all ages head to the museum each month to learn about a new era or style of clothing.

The whole thing culminated in a fashion parade at the museum just before Christmas - and although it rained - Ruth, who also has a background working in community engagement in city-based museums, said it was one of those days that everyone will always remember.

She said the models wandered through the crowd and not down a catwalk, allowing those in the crowd to see and touch the garments first hand - to ask questions and to get more of a feel for the clothes.

As well the clothes from the museum, Ruth and Lois were able to recreate patterns and new versions of some of the more delicate clothing so that they could be worn by models chosen from local sports clubs on the day. Lois, with a background in millinery recreated and restored hats.

Just days after the successful event The Frock Club took out an IMAGinE award - for Galleries and Museums in NSW. Winning the Engagement program award for volunteer organisations or organisations with two or less paid employees against museums from throughout the state.

Ruth said the while it was a good way to interest people in the museum, Frock Club was also inspired by concerns about the sustainability of "fast fashion", the decline of handmade fashion in Australia and the loss of highly skilled technical trades important to making Australia a global design club..

She said Frock Club's charter was to demystify the fashion industry and help people understand the current status of the industry as well as trying to encourage students from the science, technology, engineering and maths fields of studies towards careers in the fashion industry.

And now the dynamic duo are planning to take The Frock Club on the road to drought of regions of NSW through the year.

"It's all still in the planning stage," Ruth explained.

"We are looking at four places - Glen Innis- Inverell, the Broken Hill area, Tamworth-Scone and Nimmatabel near Canberra."

She said the purpose of the trip was to provide time out from their normal lives for the fashion lovers of each area.

But don't despair; they will still be holding small events throughout the year at Crawford House Museum including an event in March and are planning another fashion parade in 2020.

For further information about the program and the museum, go to  

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