A “POP-UP” fashion week is popping up for the second year running at Henley’s Old Fire
A “POP-UP” fashion week is popping up for the second year running at Henley’s Old Fire Station Gallery from today (Friday).
The exhibition space in Upper Market Place will be hosting work by dress designer Arzu Kara, personal stylist Justyna Poniewaz, photographer Ollie Weait and hatmaker Liz Felix.
The show, Pop-Up Henley Fashion Week 2016, runs until Tuesday and is open daily from 10am to 6pm.
This is the first year that Liz Felix, who has a shop in Reading Road, has taken part, but she’s looking forward to the experience.
“It will be exciting,”she says. “It will be with some different products and it’s local people, all local. There was one last year and they’re doing it again. It was a great success last year and they hope it’s going to be even more successful this year.”
Liz’s involvement came about through her friendship with Arzu Kara, who has a studio at the Henley Business Centre in Newtown Road.
“People kept wanting to introduce us to each other and said ‘Oh, you ought to meet Arzu,’ and so on. Eventually, our paths crossed, and I now have a range of her clothes in the shop, in the front. So we now sell them on her behalf.”
Looking ahead to the exhibition opening today, she said: “People can wander round, they can try on, and buy if they want to.
“There’ll be jewellery, there’ll be fashion, and there’ll be millinery, and then Ollie, who is a photographer who has an extensive background — he also teaches photography at Shiplake College — his photography is very glamorous and, you know, lovely.
“I think what he want to do is he wants to get into doing more portraiture-type photographs, but glamorous. He’s going to be there for most of the time and he will have some pictures on sale and maybe a slide show.
“My shop will be open as well, so I will either be down there or in the shop. Obviously if I’m in the shop I can be making things. I will either be here or there. My sister Lisa helps me in the shop, so she will be around as well.”
Liz opened Liz Felix Millinery & Accessories three years ago, in May 2014, but has been designing and making hats for almost 20 years.
She said: “Years ago I used to supply to the shops in Henley. Because I’ve got four children I was just making to order from my home in Whitchurch — in Whitchurch Hill at the time. I had a workshop in my garden and then I decided when my children were older to open this shop, which I did in May 2014, so this is my third season in Henley.
“I buy hats in but I also make a lot myself and I do a lot of bespoke made-to-order hats for mothers of the bride, Ascot, races, Henley...
“I’ve got a workshop here as well. Lots of different fabric samples that people can choose from, so I’ve got a massive array of colours.”
Liz has recently refurbished the shop, which now has new fitting rooms for clients to try on their outfits. As well as Arzu Kara, she also stocks a range of dresses by Jane & Marilyn.
Both Liz and Arzu trained in London — Liz at the London College of Fashion and Arzu at Central Saint Martins.
Liz says of her colleague’s work: “Her clothes range covers quite a wide age range, so she’s got some good young and trendy clothing, but she’s also got some really well-designed, well-shaped clothing to fit a variety of shapes and ages, so that’s really good.”
Right now is a busy time of year for everyone taking part in Pop-Up Henley Fashion Week, as it’s the run-up to Ascot and Henley, with Wimbledon in between.
Asked how she came to specialise in millinery, Liz said: “I’ve always been interested in fashion and I’ve always loved hats.
“Grandfather and great-grandfather were tailors. My grandfather was a Savile Row tailor. My eldest brother is a ventriloquist and puppet-maker. His passion is actually making.
“We’ve always made things and sewn in the family. The passion for fashion is something that I had and it just sort of evolved from when my daughter was little — I kept making her hats and little girl’s bits and pieces, and she looked very sweet in them. She’s nearly 24 now!
“She was just learning to walk, and then I went to the London College of Fashion, because I’d decided that’s what I wanted to do, and studied millinery.
“And, do you know, 20 years later I’m still learning. There’s new things, new ideas — fashion is evolving all the time, which is exciting.”
Pointing out the hat moulds dotted around her workshop at the back of the shop, she adds: “The hats come in the fabric, which is here. The fabric is moulded on to the blocks to get the shapes, whatever those shapes might be.
“Everyone has their own size so I have to stretch them and fit them to people’s heads, and then trim them with all sorts of feathers, flowers, whatever. So that’s what I do. So I can make them completely from scratch. A lot of fabric!
“Or, as I said, I buy them in as well, so some are bought in and a lot I make to order. I can’t make enough to stock the shop and do all my orders. When I’ve got outstanding orders I’ll be in here.”
Further details of Pop-Up Henley Fashion Week 2016, including biographies of the exhibitors, can be found on Henley Town Council’s website at www.henleytowncouncil.gov.uk/The-Old-Fire-Station-Gallery.aspx