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Leon Burman

Dame Zandra Rhodes at Whitchurch Silk Mill

By admin 22.05.2024

Dame Zandra Rhodes was in Whitchurch, Hampshire, yesterday to join the weavers of Whitchurch Silk Mill in celebrating the Mill’s dedicated commitment to breathing new life into the endangered craft of silk weaving at the Mill.

Dame Zandra Rhodes visited Whitchurch, Hampshire, yesterday to meet with the weavers of Whitchurch Silk Mill and celebrate the Mill’s commitment to breathing new life into the endangered craft of silk weaving.

Dame Zandra is an icon in the fashion world and has dressed many well-known figures, from Royalty to music legends, including Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury. Whitchurch Silk Mill also has a rich history in British fashion, having woven silk shirting for Turnbull & Asser, known for catering to the 1960s Swinging London set with vibrant colours and modern designs. The Mill’s sumptuous silks have been worn in period dramas, Hollywood blockbusters, and West End shows. In the early twentieth century, they wove silk linings for Burberry raincoats. The Mill still weaves silk in Hampshire using the finest of centuries-old techniques.

During her visit, Shannon Bye, the Heritage Weaving Manager at the Mill, and Trainee Be Agnew guided Dame Zandra around the Mill. They operated the Mill’s historic machinery, including the restored water wheel and a tappet loom weaving the latest ‘Moorhen’ shot silk taffeta. The Mill’s dedicated team of weavers play a pivotal role in safeguarding the silk weaving and silk ribbon weaving crafts, both of which are on the Heritage Crafts Association’s Red List.

Both Dame Zandra and the Mill share a deep-rooted passion for their legacies. Both are committed to supporting future designers and weavers and share hope for a more sustainable fashion system where clothing is no longer considered disposable.

Next month, Shannon Bye & Be Agnew will be in conversation exploring the importance of preserving silk weaving. The event will be hosted on the banks of the River Test at the Mill on Tuesday, 18 June, at 6.30 pm. To book a place visit: https://whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk/event/weaving-futures-in-conversation-with-our-heritage-silk-weavers/ . You can also visit the mill, which is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10.30 am to 5.00 pm throughout the year.

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