Fashion students are creating designer looks at credit crunch prices by customising charity shop clothes and selling them on.
The University of Portsmouth students are part of a special project collaborating with The Rowans Hospice charity shop in Southsea's Marmion Road. The students choose clothes from the items donated to the shop and customise them to give them a unique designer look.
The re-designed clothes go back on sale in the shop and all the proceeds go to The Rowans Hospice, a local charity which provides specialist hospice care to enhance the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illness.
For the students, who will have a display area in the shop, it's a chance to obtain first hand experience of designing clothes to sell directly into the marketplace.
Mel Jones, 20, is studying for a BA Fashion & Textile Design with Enterprise. She said: "The focus on producing an individual look has reminded us about the reasons we came to study fashion in the first place - originality and creativity. And of course it's a fantastic opportunity to showcase our designs to the public.
"Kate Moss made vintage clothing fashionable. It's about creating an individual look. You won't see anyone else wearing the same thing."
The project was born out of an idea from staff at the Rowans Hospice. They contacted the University's Department of Employability which places students in projects and work placements to gain extra skills to make them more employable and maximise their chances of getting a job.
Volunteer Coordinator, Alice Hickman, said: "Employers increasingly expect graduates to have work experience and a wide range of skills to complement their academic qualifications. Our students graduate with much more than just a degree under their belts, they're ready to make a difference from day one."
Vanessa Gilding is the manager of the Rowans Hospice charity shops. She said: "Charity shops have always been a great place to pick up a bargain. With this project you can buy a custom-made designer garment for a fraction of the price whilst supporting your local hospice."
The Rowans Hospice shops are run by volunteers and rely entirely on charitable donations. The charity shops make a significant contribution towards the running costs of the Hospice.
Perhaps London and the rest of the country could take a leaf out of these young girls book or have they already?
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Misa Harada, The Hat Lady

The highly awaited Autumn Winter 2009 collection for Misa Harada is out now and is set to fly off the shelves.The lady herself, for most of you who may not know her graduated from the Royal College Of Art and was immediately spotted by the Royal appointed milliner Frederick Fox where she stayed for 4 years helping design both his couture and commercial ranges. During this time she also produced hats for the catwalk shows of renowned designers Katharine Hamnett, Owen Gaster and Thierry Mugler.
Her unique style has been commissioned by several well known faces such as the rolling stones, scissor sisters, cinzano and Mac. she actually created Jennifer aniston's wedding veil, hats for the janet jackson "all for you" music video and unknown to many she was behind some of the millinery delights in the sex and the city and Ally McBeal shows. And if that is not enough, she has collaborated with Hermes, Missoni, Reem, Bora Aksu and Yohji Yamamoto.

May i suggest you take the opportunity to view some of her work at the Victoria and Albert museum's exhibition; HATS: AN ANTHOLOGY by Stephen Jones which is on til the 31 May 2009.

This collection sees an evolution by the designer known for her unique use of textile, contrast and craft. The use of various warm fabrics such as moirĂ© woven, speckled or multicoloured Harris tweeds are combined with faux silver fox or unique orang-utan like fur. Grey, black and beige and Misa’s signature multi coloured assemble pallets form this seasons colour.
Winter warming shapes are to embrace any wearer in faux fur berets and the introduction of modern day Cossack styles and turbans . Sharp and structured 30’s style beret and various form of caps are to make the statement for a modern day stylish princess. For a true special occasion, Misa has introduced some enchanting head dress pieces on Alice bands all in romantic use of feathers.

Misa Harada’s AW 09/10 collection is darker with colours such as maroon, black and grey meant for characters walking the streets of Jack the Rippers’ grey foggy London.
For the commercial line classic trilby shapes, soft pork pie hats, flat and Gatsby caps are made in grey and black checked wool combined with leather and flocked denim. All accessories such as chess knight and guitar pick pins reflect the rock and roll and Edwardian theme, while studded leather belt invokes connotations of a heritage even darker.
The knit line has been extended with an introduction of herringbone pattern flat caps, Alpaca coquette and chunky rib knit beret and chullo style in smoky shade of grey and brown.

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Celebrating The Tudors

To coincide with the fantastic documentary on the Tudors aired on TV, Hampton Court palace has organised a fantastic festival well worth attending.
The First Ever Tudor Music Festival; as part of this year's 500th anniversary celebrations to mark Henry VIIIs accession to the throne, they are dedicating four nights in the Great Hall to enjoy Tudor music. This is an excellent opportunity to step back in time and listen to music in the very place where Henry VIII enjoyed musical entertainment.
Festival-goers will enjoy a feast of music by the most eminent Tudor composers, including Byrd,
Tallis and Taverner, several of whom were employed at Henry VIII’s and Elizabeth I’s courts. Highlights include the stunning 40-part motet Spem in Alium by Tallis, as well as compositions written by King Henry VIII himself. The concerts will all take place in the magnificent Great Hall, which would not only been the centre of Henry VIII’s court life with banquets, entertainments, theatre and dancing, but would also have been the very place where Henry VIII would have heard music performed.
The festival runs from the 7th til the 10th May and doors open at 6.30pm and the concert commences at 7.30pm each night. This is one of the finest collection of performers you will come across and if that does not inspire you, perhaps spending time in the great hall where the concerts will be held will.

Tickets for the Tudor Music Festival at Hampton Court Palace are now available;

• By telephone on 0844 482 7795

• In person at the Hampton Court Palace Welcome Centre.
Prices: • £19.00 - £29.00 for adults (concessions £15.00)

• £9.50 - £14.50 for children

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Maharaja; The Splendour Of India's Royal Courts

The Maharajas were Indian Princes and Kings who had great power over India in the eighteenth century along with the Hindu Rajahs, the Muslim Nizams, the Nawabs and later, the British Empire. The Maharajas were some of the wealthiest men on the planet possessing vast amounts of treasures, with which they created fantastic collections to be kept in their treasure vaults.
During those times the Maharajas possessed the Hyderabad, possibly the largest area on the subcontinent, and a land littered with gold and diamond mines. Consequently, it was the richest state. (Out of interest, it is currently home to the world's largest film studio, Ramoji film city.)
The wealth of the Maharajas far outshone that of the British Empire. Their prudent attitude saw them create a close ally with the new British Empire, assuring security to their wealth and position.

Thanks to this strong relationship between the two empires, the V&A have managed to put together this superb exhibition "MAHARAJA: THE SPLENDOUR OF INDIA'S ROYAL COURTS" which will run from 10TH OCTOBER 2009 - 17TH JANUARY 2010.
According to the V&A, this autumn's exhibition will be the first to comprehensively explore the world of the Maharajas and their extraordinary rich culture. The exhibition will bring together over 250 magnificent objects, many on loan to the UK for the first time from India's royal collections. The exhibition promises to cover the period from the 18th century when the great era of the Maharajas began, to the end of the British rule in 1947. It also promises to show the changing role of the Maharajas in a historical and social context and look at how their patronage of the arts both in India and Europe resulted in splendid and beautiful commissions designed to enhance royal status and identity.

Like most fans, the director of the V&A, Mark Jones is clearly excited by the prospect of showing possibly some of the finest works within the Indian royal collections as his statement suggests: "There has never been an exhibition like this before, showing the spectacular treasures of the courts of the Maharajas. Many of the objects are leaving India for the first time to come into the V&A. This exhibition will show that India's rulers were significant patrons of the arts, in India and the west, and will tell the fascinating story of the changing role of the Maharaja from the early 18th century to the final days of the Raj"

I urge anyone with or without any interest in the Maharajas, to put this exhibition date in their diary and grace the gallery to witness some of the magnificent pieces on display and perhaps learn a thing or two about a culture not often discussed or presented in the UK.


Charles Watson Turban Jewel - it is an enameled gold set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, a sapphire, and a pendant pearl. These jewels were presented to admiral Charles Watson in India.

Howdah - A howdah, or houdah, is a carriage which is positioned on the back of an elephant, or occasionally some other animal, used most often in the past to carry wealthy people or for use in hunting or warfare. It was also a symbol of wealth for the owner, and as a result were decorated with expensive gems.

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