It was a feast for the eyes as well as the palette at the annual Victorian Tea at The Old School House in Qualicum Beach November 23.
Guests sipped tea from fine china cups and nibbled on finger sandwiches and dainty sweets dolloped with Devonshire cream as models wearing vintage fashions from the 50’s and 60’s strolled through the TOSH gallery.
The walls of the gallery were adorned with one-of-a-kind wreaths created by the Mid Island Floral Arts Club and Ron Hadley was at the piano providing music for the annual fundraiser.
Wearing glorious gowns from the incredible collection of Qualicum Beach’s first lady of vintage clothing Merlyn Patten, the models provoked several oohs and ahs.
Patten’s models wore a variety of styles and many were accessorized with authentic furs, shoes and purses.
Although wearing fur is considered a faux pas today, Patten said she wasn’t concerned about any negative reaction to the furs her models displayed because they are part of fashion history and were what women wore back in the day.
“I am just recycling them. I was thrilled to learn from a woman in the crowd that one of the pieces, a fur cape, was actually made of squirrel fur.”
Patten may not recognize every type of fur, but she is certainly knowledgable about other vintage fashions after collecting them for more than 30 years.
Her collection has grown from two vintage dresses and a fur coat to an entire basement full of items spanning 100 years of fashion.
“My collection is big. I started out with one wardrobe and now my entire basement has exploded with stuff,” she said.
One of her dresses, depicting the decade of the 1960s, was made for Patten’s mother in England.
Many of the other gowns Patten obtained from an estate sale in Nanaimo this summer.
“I was so lucky to find this sale and I purchased quite a few gowns. The woman who had owned them was a concert pianist and had even played with Oscar Peterson over the course of her career.”
She said there were even sheets of music signed for the woman by the Canadian jazz legend in the home.