The Lacombe Performing Arts Centre was bustling on Saturday, May 7th for the first Heritage Fashion Show. The Lacombe Historical Society and Performing Arts Centre teamed up to put on the show featuring 20 models wearing clothing from the eras between the 1860’s to the 1920’s.
Several community faces donned the old-timey clothing including Lacombe City Councillors Cora Hoekstra, Thalia Hibbs, and Scott Dallas, County Reeve Barb Shepherd and several others.
Historical clothing pieces were on display throughout the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre including dresses, suits, hats and other items. The models wore clothing created and designed by Anna Lenters who is the Board President of the Innisfail and District Historical Society and owner of Wren Originals. Not only did Lenters design most of the clothing for the night, but she also designs period appropriate clothing for the Michener House Museum and Blacksmiths Shop in Lacombe.
Lenters says the 20 outfits have taken her around 10 years to sew. She learned how to sew through Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario but specializing in vintage styles has taken a bit of research.
“[I learned] by examining historical clothing taking it, turning it inside out, and looking at how it’s constructed but then adapting it to the modern-day woman whose bones are bigger,” said Lenters.
The women’s historical pieces on display were very small often confused for children’s sizes. Lenters says the small sizes are likely due to the malnutrition of the times.
“We’re well nourished. Those people in the 1800’s they weren’t well-nourished. Their bone structure is stunted,” she explained.
The Lacombe and District Historical Society Executive Director, Melissa Blunden says special considerations are made for the small pieces.
“One of our gowns is from 1910 and the waistline [is so small], we had to order a special mannequin just to fit that particular dress. Same with the 1875 dress a lot of people were asking us if it was a children’s dress. Nope, it was a full-grown woman who was probably 4’10 or 4’11,” said Blunden.
Along with smaller sized bodies, life expectancy for that time was also much shorter to around 50 to 60-years-old.
With the show, Lenters wanted to draw special attention to women’s role in history and family life. She provided information on the pieces as well as a narrative for the show.
“I began to think about women and their role in the family, their legal rights, lack of, and lack of identity. I hope I touched on that,” she added.
Thanks to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was two years in the making but Lacombe Performing Arts Executive Director, Rosanna Kerekes was quite pleased with how it turned out.
“It was such a unique event. The same thing has happened over and over again in the community for years. We kind of got that opportunity to switch things around and switch things up a bit. I think this is the perfect event to do that with,” said Kerekes.
The proceeds from the event will be split between the Lacombe and District Historical Society and the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre.
The Historical Society is looking forward to opening their Blacksmith’s Shop and Michener House Museum on May Long Weekend. They have also recently opened their exhibition on residential schools called ‘Legacy of Hope’ at Lacombe’s Flat Iron Building.
The Lacombe Performing Arts Centre is looking forward to putting on more inclusive programming including Music for People with Dementia and other summer programming. Kerekes is also looking forward to putting on a full season of Music in the Park this summer.