How to Organize a Fun Vintage Fashion Fundraiser
A Fun Vintage Fundraiser
Holding a vintage fashion show is a great way to involve people, have fun together, and raise some funds for a favourite charity or cause.
The best way to begin is to get the people in your group enthusiastic about this fundraiser idea. They will soon be thinking about clothes that they have hidden away in some corner. So many people have articles that have happy memories (not only wedding dresses but mementos of other special occasions) and probably even some clothes of long-departed ancestors that just seem to have been kept for sentimental reasons. Soon, many in the group will be back home happily sorting out vintage and antique clothes of all kinds.
It can be a good idea to invite other local groups or clubs. Advertise it widely, so you get a good-sized audience. Depending on the size of the venue that is available, you should be able to make it into a gala event that is very popular and gets people talking and supporting your cause.
Organizing a Vintage Fashion Show
There are basic things that need to be considered in the organization of a vintage fashion show. Once you have a group of people who are enthusiastic and willing to participate, it is a good idea to meet and brainstorm about what is needing to be done. Some are suggested here, but your group will probably think of more. Make a list of these things and then find people willing to fill those positions, with an overall supervisor of the whole event as well.
- Models: Some people will be able to model their contributions and will enjoy doing that, while others, unfortunately, don't have that twenty-two-inch waist anymore and may have to enlist one of the younger members of the family or the group to do the modelling.
- An Organizer: Someone in charge of the models to make sure that they enter in the right order and at the right time; and possibly a small group of people to assist in the dressing-room.
- Setting the Scene: There may need to be some men to set up the stage or catwalk. Some potted shrubs or palms or even some flowers can add to the atmosphere.
- The Compere: This needs to be a competent person who is able to fill in if there is a gap in the models coming in. Also, much will hang on how well and how interestingly the fashions are described.
- Ticket collectors: If entrance is by invitation, the tickets need to be collected, or the entrance donation. Extra people are needed for this.
- Door Prizes: These can be donated and arrangements made about how the prizes are to be won: perhaps by the number on the entrance ticket, or by paying an extra fee at the door. Other ways are by a 'lucky spot' so people in preset spots at a given time, or numbers hidden on the back of chairs, can provide the winners.
- Refreshments: An area will need to be set aside for this and people chosen for the various tasks, e.g., such as organizing the tea and coffee urns, pouring, etc., clearing the tables. Decisions need to be made as to whether the refreshments are part of the entrance donation, or if an extra charge is to be made. There will need to be another decision about how the food is to be provided—ordered in or 'bring a plate' (of cakes, finger-food, etc.) by the members. Some group members may prefer to make sandwiches in the venue kitchen, and the ingredients for these will need to be arranged. Do please remember that there are strict rules in many places about refreshments, the required temperatures of hot and cold foods, and laws about cleanliness and hand-washing.
Dating Vintage Clothing
Many people will know who in their family wore the garment they have chosen to display and may be able to date it quite well. However, in former days, many people did not own as many clothes as they do today, and they often cared for them and wore them for years. Clothing and accessories that qualify as vintage fashions are those over twenty-five years old, while those over seventy-five years are regarded as antique clothes. Waists were usually small until around the late 1950s.
Briefly, an examination of the type of fabric, the way the garment was fastened and the length of the hems on ladies' dresses can help in dating.
- Fabric: If the clothes are truly vintage or antique, most likely the fabrics will be either cotton, linen, silk or wool. There are some other exotics, such as camel-hair and angora, but the first four are the probable fabrics. Synthetics have most commonly only been around since the mid-1950s when nylon dresses became popular. Nylon stockings came in around the 1940s, before that they were usually woollen in the winter and lisle, or exotically silk, in the summer.
- Fasteners: Ladies' dresses were fastened with buttons, ties and clasps until the late 1930s. Early zippers were made of metal and until the 1950s, women's dress and skirt zips were usually down the centre of the back.
- Hems: The hems of ladies' frocks were usually mid-calf in the 1930s and were not worn above the knees until the 1960s.
On the Day
If you have chosen a supervisor for each section of activity, it can be useful to have an extra person 'floating.' They can go from group to group and give extra help when needed.
- Welcomer: It can be a good idea to have a cheerful welcomer at the door to direct people to where they need to go.
- Entrance Fee: If you have enough people, it can be helpful to have two people at a table near the entrance. They can deal with payments and donations, and if you are having door prizes, make sure that everyone has a number.
- Photographer: Probably families will have their own cameras at the ready, but it's good to choose someone who is good with a camera to take the official record of the event. You may want to charge for copies of the photos later.
- Media Person: You may have chosen a member of the group to act as liaison with the local media, such as the local newspaper. If this has been done, the liaison person will be responsible for meeting and assisting any media representatives who come.
- Supervisor of models: As it is an amateur show with most of the participants displaying their own family garments, they will probably be responsible for them and may not need much assistance in changing. However, a Supervisor will be helpful to make sure that the models are ready to walk out at the right moment. There may need to be another assistant or two, to help hasten the dressing of the models, their make-up and hair as well.
- Compere: The Compere needs to be chosen carefully as much of the success of the show will depend on this person, and the way the models are introduced. The event is supposed to be fun. The Compere will need a script with the order of the entrances of the models and descriptions of their garments and accessories. A copy of the script should also be given to the Supervisor of the models.
- Supervisor of refreshments: There will be a group of people dealing with the food, the pouring of the tea and coffee, the taking of payments and possibly the serving at the tables. A Supervisor to oversee and deal with any problems that might arise can be a good idea. If it is a small show, there may be only a couple of people doing this together.
There are quite a few things at the end of a show that need to be done. You will probably think of more than thanking, making announcements and cleaning the venue. If the work is planned carefully and shared, it should not be too onerous—and fun for all involved!
- Thanking participants: Before the guests leave, it is always important to officially thank special visitors, the guests, the participants and the workers. You may want to give a bouquet or something similar to those who have done the most work and a small posy to each of the models. These will need to have been prepared or ordered beforehand.
- Announcements: Any announcements should be made before closing the show. Information about the availability of photographs may be made, including any media persons who may have been present if you are able to announce when a report may be available. If the amount raised has been calculated, this can be announced as it adds to the feeling that the show has been a success and that all have contributed to that.
- Cleaning up: Once the guests have left, the venue needs to be cleaned and things such as tables and chairs that have been moved replaced. Floral decorations may need to be taken home again. Rubbish should be taken care of and if there is any left-over food that should be dealt with, too. You may even want to auction it for a little more financial gain!
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© 2012 Bronwen Scott-Branagan