Making The Clothes
When young people think of the arts, fashion and music come tops. In line with this enthusiasm the Summer Playscheme of 1972 culminated in a Fashion Show and Disco. The playscheme ran for six weeks from 24th July to 2nd September.
When the young people first entered the playscheme in the Blackie they were surprised to find sewing machines, equipment, materials and supplies for making clothes, jewellery, belts, hats and accessories. Whilst the girls already had some experience of clothes making, this was new territory for the boys. The boys discovered that if they wanted new clothes then they would have to get behind a sewing machine. The Blackie staff worked with the young people to decide upon, research, design, prepare and make whatever garments and articles they agreed on.
Above left Andy Gibbons, Maria Agatha, and Wendy Harpe and above right Andy Gibbons with sewing machines.
During the playscheme the young people, assisted by adults, learnt the arts of design, dyeing, sewing, printing, macramÃ©, and used different materials such as wool, silk, cotton, linen and leather.
Equipment used included 6 electric sewing machines, 2 hand sewing machines, 1 industrial sewing machine, a dress-making dummy and irons. And, of course, scissors, needles, pins, threads, zippers.
Sewing workshops in the Upper Dome, Judy Gough and Simon Holland at work, Wayne Spence discussing his trousers and Steph Dodds & Pete Eyo at the end of a workshop.
The Fashion Show
It was agreed that the Playscheme would culminate in a Fashion Show, but a Fashion Show with a difference. Rather than the usual 'Catwalk' display or Parade, there would be a Disco with slides of the various clothes and outfits modelled by whoever made them, shot in locations of their choosing, and projected life-size onto a screen.
Doing photoshoots involved the young people in lots of aspects of production - choosing locations, organising other people, setting up the shots, cameras and film, photo-editing.. The locations involved downtown sites, Sefton Park, the roof of the Blackie, a record store, Liverpool University, an expensive sports car, the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral and more. 23 young people took part in 13 photoshoots.
The Girls - Hilda Osu, Diana Barker , Iola Barker and Pauline Williams did their photoshoot in Sefton Park; taking up various group poses and Iola Palmer poses by herself.
People posed all over the City so above we have Steve Thompson in the courtyard of the Bluecoat Chambers., Mathew Ignacio in The cmetry of the Anglican Cathedral and J.J.Williams at the Goree Piazza.
But not everyone travelled for their photshoots, some just posed in the Blackie.
Posing in the Blackie George Carpenter seated; Wayne Spence standing; and Rose Uhu on the car bonnet in the the local car park. Blow Phil Tagoe on the Blackie's roof.
Phil Tagoe on The Blackie Roof
The notice and invitation said
"Saturday is a disco for those who have spent the summer
at The Blackie
During the last six weeks we've made clothes, jewellery,
leather belts and hats, printed T-shirts, macrame arm bands
(plus playing games, dancing and watching films)
On Saturday we invite you to come wearing anything you've
made, to dance and sing at The Blackie.
Bring your mum and dad - its a family affair"
During the Disco the new clothes were proudly worn by the dancers, as well as being equally proudly modelled through the slideshow accompanying the Disco.
Above J.J.Williams dancing and right Ramon Serrano, Phill Tagoe, Stephen Smith and Wayne Hughes
30 young people created their own new clothes, including summer boutique-style fashions - a two-tone brown suede waistcoat and matching hat, a flower-patterned smock dress, a variety of flared trousers, a wide variety of outfits, brightly coloured tops, chunky jewellery and leather bracelets.
Sadly, more slides of the photographs which were projected during the Fashion Show are not currently available, because the slide carousel containing them has been misplaced. As soon as it is found they will be added to this site.
Food and refreshments were provided.
Staffing et al
Performers: J.J. Williams dancing to 'Funky Music Turns Me On', from the Temptations; The Glitters dance duet (Maxine Alcock and Brenda Suku); Friends of Soul, a group of seven (Linda Agoro, Diane Barker, Donna Deforo, Joanne Lewis, Hilda Osu, Iola Palmer, Pauline Williams) sang 'Ebony Eyes'; Funky Hands and Feet
Disco by Radio Doom (Dave Kay and Jeff Hartley)
Lights were by Dave Rickus, Sally Morris, Dave Alston, Steve Knox and Phil Tagoe.
The environment was created by Mary-Kay Giblin, Tommy Branch, Mo Bates and Al.
Staging was by members of staff and local young people.
The Fashion Show project was conceived by Wendy Harpe, Sandie Armstrong, and Chris Mead.
During the playscheme and preparations there were 50 volunteers over a 9 week period
Thanks go to:
Liverpool Polytechnic - Faculty of Art & Design, School of Fashion and Textiles which provided instruction in Dyeing and Printing techniques. Special thanks to J. Keith Burrow.
Materials and donations were contributed by: Samuel Heap & Son ltd.; Firth Carpets Ltd.; Emu Wools Ltd.; Central Trimmings; Armitage & Rigby; The Chorley Bleaching Co.; Radcliffe Slasher Sizing Co.; Hendersosns Ltd. Waldmans Hughes & Patterson; English Calico Ltd.
The following descriptions are from '7 Up', a publication celebrating the first 7 years of The Blackie.
Making The Scene With Blackie Fashions
Eight-foot high pictures projected on the wall, changing to the music, showing models arranged in the park like a cover for an L.P.; poised on top of a roof; draped on an expensive car; mounting steps; leisurely gazing in a jewellery shop window. All displaying summer boutique-style fashions.
This was the setting for Disco in the Blackie Fashion, an event staged in summer 72 after six weeks of sewing workshops led by Sandie Armstrong and Stephanie Dodds. Over 100 slides were taken of clothes made at the Blackie and then modelled on location in Liverpool.
Steve Thompson in his two-tone brown suede waistcoat and matching hat posed causally among the sculpture in the forecourt of the Bluecoat Chambers. Irene Lally, a local mum, chose St. John's Gardens to model her flower-patterned smock dress.
At the show, 30 performers appeared on the walls; Funky Hands and Feet, Friends of Soul, and Jayotis Williams performed on a small stage and everyone joined on the dance floor to the sound of Radio Doom, displaying a variety of flared trousers, brightly coloured tops, chunky jewellery and leather bracelets.
The event was attended by 168 parents, kids and staff. It was conceived by Wendy Harpe and Chris Mead.
Massive donations of materials enabled the event to run on a budget of Â£156 which covered the cost of six sewing machines. Mo Bates, full-time member of staff, remembering the variety of fairs and circuses which have punctuated, or concluded, Blackie playschemes, described the event as "one of the most powerful events I have ever experienced with kids".
Soul Sister Brother Groups Make Stage Debut
Slick song and dance routines have paved the way for stage debuts at the Blackie by kids. The Disco in the Blackie Fashion show in 1972 saw the birth of soul sister/brother groups The Glitters, Funky Hands And Feet, and Friends Of Soul.
The young Glitters dancing duet (Maxine Alcock, Brenda Suku) with dance combination group Funky Hands and Feet (Ramon Serrano, Gerald Aryeetey, Stephen Smith, Phil Tagoe, Ronnie Deforo) and teenage vocal group Friends of Soul (Hilda Osu, Diane Barker, Pauline Williams, Iola Palmer, Joanne Lewis, Linda Agoro, Donna Deforo) inspired many watchers to become singers/dancers in later shows (Christmas Fair '72, Summer Show '74). Other groups since formed include: Black Gold, Puzzle People, Sister's Peace.
Friends of Soul's (first of the vocal groups) performance at Disco in the Blackie Fashion was a personal triumph for the group, who in front of a somewhat critical audience of relations/mates turned in a smooth interpretation of 'Ebony Eyes' by the Stylistics.
Gary Tagoe, ex-Funky Five and now with the Superstars, recalls how older friend Jayotis Williams, Ronnie Deforo, and Stephanie Dodds, with the occasional staff member, would help sharpen the group's stage presence in voice and dance as well as arranging practice schedules.
Rehearsals were tough discipline-wise and if a show was scheduled practice was daily, with material (mainly soul numbers) being worked on for up to three weeks before the performance date. Often 2-3 groups would be in, practicing simultaneously in different places. The groups always tended to start off bigger than they ended up, as the few with non-professional attitudes left the scene. As Gary Tagoe chipped in: "It was hard but that's the way it should be."