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Gallery: Students at West Suffolk College get creative for Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

12:00 03 March 2014

The Mad Hatter’s Tea party - A surreal tea party with exotic hats and hairstyles by West Suffolk College art and fashion students. Left to right, Jessica Leslie, Aston Rodwell, Olivia Shaw.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea party - A surreal tea party with exotic hats and hairstyles by West Suffolk College art and fashion students. Left to right, Jessica Leslie, Aston Rodwell, Olivia Shaw.


It was a surreal tea party with exotic hats and hairstyles, colourful costumes and make up.

Although there was no sign of characters from Alice in Wonderland the theme of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party was aptly portrayed by art students at the West Suffolk College, in Bury St Edmunds.

They are in the second year of a BTEC Extended Diploma in Art and Design (Fashion and Textiles) and the UAL Foundation Diploma in Art and Design and had been tasked to design weird and wonderful costumes and hats.

The students who came up with a series of imaginative creations were invited to take as their inspiration a character who has really existed, past or present, and who has a colourful and remarkable personality.

So they chose to be guests at a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, based on the scene in the Tim Burton film, Alice in Wonderland.

For inspiration, the students made a trip to the capital to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “A Club to Catwalk” exhibition and the “Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore” exhibition.

The project finale was a set piece in the copse at the college in Risbygate Street.

Models wore exotic headpieces and hairdressing students styled their hair and makeup.

The scene was recorded by photography students.

In creating their characters, students had to design an outfit, including makeup and hair, based on their research into the chosen character and fashion style, and present it as a series of fashion illustrations.

For the final stage, they were asked to make a hat or headpiece and a textile piece of tableware such as single napkin, an extraordinary tea cosy, flowers or even a cupcake.

Course director Sue Winslett said: “It was a chance for students to 
be incredibly innovative, individual and bold whilst resolving a design task.

“They have looked at historical costume, theatre, drama, and social context to create a character which has personal meaning for them.

“Every member of this Mad Hatter’s Tea Party will have been influenced by something from the club culture of the 1980s and embroiled with their own eccentricities.”


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