Subject Advice


Fashion Matters

To the economy, to society and to each of us personally. Faster than anything else, what we wear tells the story of who we are - or who we want to be. Fashion is the most immediate and intimate form of self-expression. 

Sir Paul Smith with members of the Fashion (Hybrid) IGO Group

Sir Paul Smith with Ruth Lancashire, Fashion Subject Adviser

Dame Zandra Rhodes in her penthouse with Leigh Estuary u3a members


Sir Paul Smith with members of the Fashion (Hybrid) IGO Group

Dame Zandra Rhodes on Zoom with Fashion IGO group

Sir Paul Smith showing Jane Hartigan, member of the group, the Rose that was named after him

Jenny Packham with Ruth Lancashire

Jenny Packham with Ruth Lancashire

Jenny Packham Studio
Jenny Packham's studio
 Jenny Packham
The Fashion (Hybrid) IGO group visited Jenny Packham, with some people on zoom, and others in person

I have been fascinated with clothes and fashion all my life!

My memories of events going back to childhood have always had illustrations of the clothes, shoes and jewellery worn at the time. As I expect with many members in our age group, clothes that I loved were not always affordable so I had to make my own.

I love beautiful fabrics, skilled designs and craftsmanship which I share with the other members of our Fashion Groups.

I started a Fashion Group with another Leigh Estuary u3a member when this u3a was formed. It was such a success, that two further fashion groups followed.

Over the past 10 years, a lot of experience has been gained going to Fashion events at the V&A, the Barbican and the Fashion and Textile Musuem. We have also visited the costume dept at the Royal Opera house, Central St Martins and the London College of Fashion.

In 2020, the u3a formed Interest Groups Online (IGO) to enable members to join groups by zoom or similar online platforms. This gave all members a chance to socialise whilst being isolated at home. It was a great idea, and its popularity has ensured it continues.

I started a Fashion (Hybrid) IGO group, and have been delighted to meet enthusiastic and interesting fashion members from all over the UK. We have gelled so well, apart from our monthly zoom meetings, we meet in London, and have been lucky enough to meet fashion designers including Jenny Packham, Dame Zandra Rhodes and recently Sir Paul Smith.

I would say to anyone if you are newly retired, join or start a Fashion Group to avoid sliding in to 'I needn't bother anymore I'll just wear something comfy'. As a Fashion Group member you can't take the risk that you might bump in to another member in the High Street so you have to keep up the standard!

We are all there to help one another look as good as we can for our age and shape.

If you are interested in joining or setting up a Fashion group and would like to discuss I will be pleased to hear from you. 

Ruth Lancashire   

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