A tea party with a guest list including Christopher Kane, Donatella Versace and Sarah Burton will convene at this weekends Port Eliot Festival. But the guests around the cake tiers and teapots wont be the designers themselvesinstead, the designers cherished dolls are sitting down for tea.
When Ive interviewed designers, theyve often talked about how their first experiences of designing were creating clothes for Sindy dolls or Barbie dolls, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and Port Eliot Fashion Programme Director Sarah Mower told us. Its always been fascinating how many designers started making clothes that way.
A conversation with Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz crystallised Mowers idea to hold a fashion dolls tea party at the 2012 festival. He told me that his parents had so little money when he was a child that he used to make his chess set into dolls, dressing the chess pieces in bits of fabric and paper, making hair for them and playing all these games.
Elbaz produced a more lavish version of his childhood set for the event, this time with a self-portraitthe designer appears as a knight in the middle of the board, fitting a dress on another doll.
The chess set holds pride of place in designer Michael Howells installation in the Big Dining Room at Port Eliot. Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy's two rabbits are also there, as are Christopher Raeburn's Mr T action figure and Donatella Versace's personal Barbie. In total, the installation includes more than 50 dolls.
Sixteen of these come fro More