SHOW LOW – Though mountain attire is the norm for dress in the White Mountains, many look forward to an event for which they can dress up now and then.
The White Mountain Costume Guild (WMCG) will provide such an event on May 14 with a Victorian cream tea and fashion show.
The WMCG was formed last October by two ladies who belonged to historical societies in other states, Trudy Foland and Karen “Kitty” Watts.
Foland, a co-founder of the Orange County Costume Guild in California, and a past member of the San Diego Costume Guild, has been sewing historical attire with an emphasis on historical accuracy for over 15 years. She attended costume college in Los Angeles.
Watts, who has been an integral part of the Galveston Historical Society’s annual Dickens On the Strand, an annual event based on 19th-century Victorian London, has been sewing for over 35 years. She loves the Renaissance, Victorian and Regency eras and has been in multiple dress competitions for her historical gowns. Her favorite time of year is Halloween when her creativity and costuming explodes.
Foland and Watts met after Watts’ husband placed a piece of vintage jewelry for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Though Foland did not buy the piece of jewelry, she did reach out and discovered a fellow costume sewer which lead to the two of them founding WMCG.
Creating a Facebook page of their own, WMCG began attracting others who sew and wanted to learn to make period costumes. WMCG has steadily added members and on March 27 they held the guild’s first costume event at the Arts Alliance of the White Mountains (AAWM), the nonprofit group they have chosen as the recipient of their fashion show/cream tea fundrasier next month.
Guild members wanted to dress up and wear the historical attire and they had such a delightful time, they decided they would give back to the community by offering fashion show fundraisers to other Mountain organizations.
The afternoon tea, which WMCG will hold for AAWM, has its origin in the Victorian era. According to an article by Ben Johnson, titled “Afternoon Tea,” on historic-uk.com, the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Stanhope (1783-1857), created the afternoon tea.
In those days it was a long wait between lunch and the evening meal and the Duchess looked for a way to curb her appetite between meals. She began having a light snack and her tea in her boudoir. She later turned it into an influential tea event by formally inviting affluent friends and aristocrats to join her in the ritual at Woburn Abbey, the Bedford family country estate.
High tea and other such events became popular in the United States around 1870, in fact, the same year that Show Low was established. The price of tea had come down and the middle class could afford it. Hotels and department stores began to offer the tea experience. Even for the middle class, it was an occasion to dress their best and partake of the delicacies once offered only to those of wealthy means, and to display manners and tea etiquette.
The event at AAWM will be a cream tea. A cream tea is defined as a tea with scones, jam and cream. WMCG also plans to offer other pastries, and organizers say there will be chocolate. The guild actually has its own brand of blended tea.
The fashion show, which will encompass around 45 minutes of the event, will feature 15 to 18 models, and some will display two costumes. Foland will be the master of ceremonies and says her comments on each dress will be more than just descriptive. She will also include some educational information on the costumes.
Some of the costumes shown will be for sale and will be identified as such as they are modeled. Someone will win a Victorian costume. It is a size 8/10 and can be altered two sizes down if necessary. Should it need to be larger, WMCG will make another for the person.
The group will have raffle tickets for sale for gifts, and there will be time to visit with others during a planned intermission. There will also be time to view AAWM’s art gallery that displays the work of local artists.
Tickets are being offered for $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and older. The event will be limited to 90 people. Since it is a fundraiser for AAWM, the tickets are non-refundable. Should there be inclement weather, however, a rain check will be extended to ticket holders and a new date set for the event.
Attendees are encouraged to dress in Victorian attire, including hats and gloves and to bring their favorite tea cup, which will make the event even more special. Should someone not have a teacup – not to worry – there will be teacups available.
Tickets will go on sale at the April Cork ’n Canvas held from 5 to 7 p.m. on April 29 at AAWM, 251 Penrod Lane. AAWM began its summer hours this month and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information on WMCG can be found on Facebook.