18 months from the original idea, Amanda Flanders of Butterflies and Dreams events, Jane Mucklow of Jane Mucklow Photography and myself of Caroline Bruce Designs, finally created the fantastic charity fashion show we had been planning all that time! The Gorillas and Gowns Charity Fashion Show was held within the grounds of the Port Lympne Wildlife Reserve at their amazing mansion house, now Port Lympne Hotel. When I first stepped inside this incredible building I knew this would make a great location for a fashion show, it has to be seen! Whilst appreciating the interior herself, Amanda Flanders told me that she could arrange a fashion show for me and I was delighted at the prospect... and she did! We joined forces with Jane Mucklow who took some incredible photographs of not only my dresses but of the location and the evenings events!
As Port Lympne was our stunning venue, we agreed that our only charity for the evening had to be Aspinall's Foundation and the funds were to be donated to their work with the gorillas, hence Gorillas and Gowns! We realised that four endangered western lowland gorilla brothers, will be sent to a gorilla orphanage in Congo by Aspinalls, to rehabilitate them back into the wild and this was what the funds raised will be going toward. When you go to Port Lympne Reserve, they have a list on display near to the entrance, with all the wild animals that are close to extinction mentioned, that's without all the other species of animals, and it is desperately sad to think that within our lifetime we could, and already have, lost many species that will not be there for future generations to see, gone forever! That is why our event was so important to all of us, even though I'm sure it's a small drop in the ocean to what is really required to make a difference.
Just some of the items donated are above. Below is just one of the three 'Gorillas and Gowns' limited edition 100% silk georgette gorilla print scarves I designed and made. I had the design for the gorilla print but needed help with the technical side of printing and so luckily I found textile print graduate Lauren McArthur and I put her creative skills to use and she enabled me to have my gorilla print on the silk I wanted! I love the effect the repeat print gives.
By chance also I happened to know Josh Birch Jones and that he had a great deal of designs drawn up and I thought it would be a brilliant idea if he could have some of his designs made and launch both our collections at the same time... Joshua being only twelve years old of course, but his mother was thrilled and it made for a great concept for this charity event. I was keen to use the fashion show as a platform to show potential clients my new designer ethical evening and occasionwear range. Among the items were my a few bespoke pieces and a couple of leopard print pieces just for the show!
My theme for the collection was The Power of a Woman and this was a continuum of the pieces I created previously. I love using fluid fabrics like soft satins and chiffons as well as fabrics which take on more form, like organza and duchess satin. My evening wear designs are often inspired by the 1920s and Hollywood glamour with my own narrative. Movement of fabric around the body is intriguing to me, therefore I think in three dimensions, figuring out how the design will work as an actual garment and how I can construct each piece. Luckily I am able to work on all stages of the process from design to finishing, which gives me total creative freedom.
Young Joshua Birch Jones was also showing his capsule collection, inspired by the need his mother had to change from boardroom attire to evening attire without carrying extra clothing around all day long, as she went to various meetings. He had the idea of making reversible pieces that would coordinate and be suitable for both scenarios. He did fabulously as you can see below!
I have been working on the lovely Mrs Joan Collins' wardrobe, on and off for over a year now, so I knew animal welfare causes are very close to her heart. When Joan, who appears on The Only Way Is Essex with her daughter Gemma, said she would like to come along to our fashion show with Gemma, star of TOWIE and with her own fashion collections, I was so excited! Gemma also made a generous donation to the charity, which we are most grateful for! Having mother and daughter celebrities there made it an extra special event for me!
We were also lucky to have another mother and daughter attending as Mary-Louise Chandler came along to support her lovely daughter Lily Chandler who was modelling for me. Mary-Louise herself is a model and ambassador of plus size clothing. Both pictured below!
Below I am taking my bow at the end of the show with the final line up!
Apart from the two fashion shows, there were amazing body painted ladies by the living art show who entertained the audience and there was a grand auction with some very generous pledges. It was a fantastic evening and we raised an amazing £6,500 for the Aspinall Foundation so a massive thank you to everyone who made this possible. Below are my amazing models who I am extremely grateful to for putting on such an amazing show!
Special thanks goes out to Amanda Flanders, Jane Mucklow, Paul Andrews of The Business Bunker, Joshua and Joanna Birch Jones, Molly Wright from Molly Moodle Media, Port Lympne Hotel, The Aspinall Foundation and everyone who attended and donated!
All amazing photography by @janemucklowphotography