Winni Wiegand models Dior's New Look from 1947 during a vintage fashion show hosted by Merlyn Patten. The Spring Fling Fashion Show will showcase 100 years of fashion April 9 at St. Stephen's United Church in Qualicum Beach.

Spring Fling features 100 years of fashion

Merlyn Patten vintage fashion show to benefit YoungLife in April 9 event in Qualicum Beach

YoungLife Qualicum Beach will get a boost from some old fashion when Merlyn Patten hosts the Spring Fling Vintage Fashion Show Saturday, April 9, at St. Stephen’s United Church in Qualicum Beach.

Known as the Vintage Clothing Lady, Patten has been sharing her love of classic women’s styles in the mid-Island region for 30 years. The Spring Fling is themed 100 Years of Fashion and will showcase more than 60 outfits worn by more than a dozen volunteer models in a fundraiser for YoungLife.

“These are all original fashions from the last 100 years,” said Patten. “They’re not reproductions. I have all spring garments in this show and, as it’s the season, there are several vintage wedding dresses.”

The fashion show will also include an afternoon tea sitting with finger food and a silent auction. Guests are encouraged to wear a hat, with a prize for the best hat.

YoungLife, which just celebrated its 10th year in Qualicum Beach, offers lunchtime and after-school social inclusion programs for students in Grade 5 and above, at various area schools. The funds raised will help provide equipment, snacks and financial assistance for students who need help attending day camps and summer camps, said Doug Lochhead, YoungLife director.

“This is the second time we’ve done (the fashion show), and we’re really thankful for these benefactors,” said Lochhead. “We don’t organize it; that’s something Merlyn does. But it’ll be a really fun event, kind of like a benefit gala or concert.”

YoungLife holds its own fundraiser each October, Lochhead said, and members help with the Iron Man of Golf event each June.

Michelle Thompson sports a red “mod” look from 1960 during a vintage fashion show hosted by Merlyn Patten. The Spring Fling Fashion Show will showcase 100 years of fashion April 9 at St. Stephen’s United Church in Qualicum Beach. — Photo submitted by Merlyn Patten

“This event is not ours, so the people don’t really know us,” he said of the fashion show. “That makes it kind of fun.”

Silent auction prizes already donated include a flightseeing trip over Parksville Qualicum Beach for two and dinner with Lochhead and his family.

Patten’s shows have been a popular draw throughout the mid-Island, including Port Alberni and Courtenay, and they often feature a fund-raising element.

Last year’s Spring Fling raised more than $3,000 and a similar event at the Seniors Centre brought in more than $4,000. Patten has been a regular at the Qualicum Beach Festival in June and last year’s show there featured vintage bathing suits dating back to 1900.

“I’ve been collecting these for 30 years,” she said. “I started out with two, 1950s dresses that fitted me, and a fur coat. Very gradually, I fell in love with all the styles and design techniques.

“Now we live in a throwaway world. Back in history, garments were kept forever and cut down to make new patterns and outfits.”

Over the last few weeks, Patten has been conducting fittings with her models. The final fitting, she said, was matching accessories with the clothes, which can often be the highlight of the entire process.

“I sort out all the hats, gloves and jewels, etc., to go with the garments,” Patten said. “Maybe a parasol or cigarette holder is needed; these second fittings result in lots of fun and laughter.”

Tickets to the Spring Fling are $25, advance sales only. Seating is limited to 120, and tickets have already been going fast, said organizer Gill Connor. Tickets may be purchase at Fresh and Fabulous Flowers in Qualicum Beach. For more info, call 250-752-8856.

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