I’m a little late to the party with this one and can’t believe I haven’t been down to the Q Festival on Baltic Square. Based in the beautiful 1920s feel Spiegeltent, Q Festival has been running since July 14th ending on Sunday 6th August. Q Festival is running in conjunction with Gateshead Council and Jesterval Comedy Festival, providing the good people of the North East with a vast programme of activities for adults. children, businesses and families. As well as the Spiegeltent itself there are foodie pop ups and entertainment in Baltic Square.
Glitz and Glamour: Getting Ready for a Party!
Tonight I would be entertained in the Spiegeltent by the fabulous Meredith Towne, a costume historian from Nottingham. Her racks of vintage clothes and accessories looked amazing under the lights and mirrors of the tent. I wasn’t really sure exactly what to expect but as soon as Meredith took to the stage with her wit and knowledge I knew I was in for a good night.
Meredith and her glamorous assistant (I think this was her Mum) started in the 1920’s an era associated with ‘flappers’ and the Charlston. Dresses in this era were at the knee, quite shapeless hanging from the shoulders with decorative beading and embellishments. For those with a lower disposable income dresses were made at home then beaded by a seamstress. You could even buy pre-made tassels at the department stores to be sewed on. Meredith had an amazing ostrich feather fan which was the height of fashion and spritzed us all with some Chanel No 5.
As Meredith moved onto the 1930’s fashions started to change with the golden age of Hollywood. It was also more about the accessories than the dresses themselves with capelets. beaded shawls and a Max Factor lippy. Girls looked to Hollywood for inspiration and tried to copy the look at home. It was no longer shameful to apply your lippy in public and sales of make up boomed.
1940’s and 50’s
1940’s and 1950’s was a time of austerity where girls wanted to look grown up. Disney Princess movies influenced fashion with girls wishing for the romantic Cinderella look. Petty coats were added to create volume and layers to the dresses. Still a lot of clothing was made at home but ready wear collections hit the shelves. Brands like Chanel and Givenchy realised the buying power of women and started to sell handbags, scarfs, and jewellery with their distinctive logos.
1960’s and 70’s
Heading into the 1960’s and 1970’s fashion took its influence from the Pop Stars of the day. Although we think of the ‘swinging sixties’ and Twiggy, in fact, many women in this country still did dress pretty conservatively, with a look more of the 1950’s. From the 1970’s Meredith showed off a fantastic ‘Abigail’s party’ style gold, orange and purple number. Brilliant.
So much of Meredith’s collection was her own Grandmothers which is pretty fab and lots of the pieces have been donated to her. Shoes are tricky to nail as feet are so much wider now than they were. I would have no hope getting into any of her gorgeous frocks they were teeny!
It was soon racing to the end of the night where a public vote decided which of the dresses encapsulated glamour in the 20th century. By a big margin, we all chose a gorgeous green 1950’s cocktail dress with a cute bow at the back. Accessorised by silver slingbacks and a clutch bag Meredith was ready for the party!
End of the Party
All things must come to an end and at 10pm the night was wrapping up. I had a look at the vintage pieces from TrendListr which showcased exclusive and curated high-quality authentic vintage alongside Ebb and Sew who also items for sale. I’m looking forward to completing my “craft in a bag” geometric necklace from The Crafthood at home.
Meredith will be coming back up North to Gateshead Library on October 10th for a talk on 1980’s power dressing. If you want a brilliant night of entertainment, knowledge and fun I recommend you come along. I’ll be assembling a gang together for this one!
Still to Come at the Q Festival
There are still plenty of events still to enjoy at the Q Festival over the next few weeks.
Thursday 27 July: Screenage KIDS: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Adults)
Friday 28 July: Screenage KIDS: Dumbo (Family)
Saturday 29 July: Jesterval Street Circus at Trinity Square (Family)
Monday 31 July: Jittabugs’ Move ad Groove (Family) and Grass Roots Yoga (Family)
Tuesday 1 August: Artventurers Colourful Carnival (Family) and Jumpin’ Hot Club Presents: Q Festival
Wednesday 2 August: All at Sea on Gateshead Quay (Family) and The Big 90s Pop Culture Quiz
Friday 4 August: Speigel Storytime (Family) and Game on! (Family) and 80s Social Club
Sun 6 August: Carruthers & Kent Summer Wine Fair at the Q Festival
Tickets are on sale for Jesterval NOW at www.jesterval.com