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Cardiff and Vale College students make dresses to impress at Dyffryn House

Level 3 Art and Design and Level 3 Fashion students from Cardiff and Vale College have created an interpretive display at Dyffryn House in the Vale of Glamorgan, after being commissioned by the National Trust.

The display is in the bedroom of the house’s last resident, Florence Cory, the daughter of John and Anna Cory who built Dyffryn and lived in it from 1891-1936. Art and Design students produced design ideas inspired by the house and its famous Grade 1 listed gardens, which were then digitally printed in repeat patters onto fabric that Fashion learners then used to create Edwardian style dresses.

The students also used newspaper clippings, Florence’s will and inventories of her possessions for further ideas.

The project was a live brief from the National trust. CAVC live briefs involve learners being commissioned to work for external clients, giving them the opportunity to test and validate their skills in a real working environment while boosting their employability skills.

Art and Design student Olivia Williams from Cardiff said: “Bringing Florence to life through a pattern was a very enjoyable project, almost taking the role of a detective while researching and reading sources about her. Transforming that information into something visual was a process I liked a lot.

“Knowing that this wasn’t the end of the road for my creation was also exciting and unlike anything I’ve ever worked on before. I couldn’t wait to see my design incorporated into the dress.”

Fellow Art and Design learner Elena Grace from Barry said: “I drew influence from the architecture of the house for my pattern – I was drawn to the Moroccan tiles in the Great Hall fireplace because of their colour combination and distinctive design. I also drew inspiration from Florence’s love of music and the oriental themes in the original furnishings and in the gardens.

“I enjoyed the project because I learned skills revolving around patterns, specifically repeats. I also learned a lot of technical skills with editing and putting together work digitally.”

Lois Luxton, an Art and Design student from Llantwit Major, said: “I decided to use inspiration from Florence herself. As there are very few images of Florence I decided to picture what she would have looked like from descriptions of her.

“I researched newspaper articles about her, and studied her ornaments and furnishings that were listed in the estate sale catalogue from 1937.”

CAVC Level 3 Fashion and Clothing Course Co-ordinator Kerry Cameron said: “It’s really important that our Level 3 students get involved in these live projects as it actually gives the students an idea of what it’s like to work collaboratively with other organisations. They get an idea of the many different influences that can inspire fashion and it’s also important that they get to build links with other organisations.”

Christina Hanley, House Steward at Dyffryn Gardens, said: “We started working with CAVC a year ago. What we wanted to do was bring Florence Cory’s bedroom to life.

“The students at CAVC have been really inspired by both the gardens and the house and they’ve come up with these repeat patterns, based on Dyffryn. It’s been really refreshing to have this group of young, enthusiastic students who’ve looked at Dyffryn with completely new eyes.

“It’s completely transformed this space and the creative process behind it has been really interesting.”

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