Woodbridge trees dressed to impress by former Parisian fashion designer

Claire Fried has designed the Christmas lights on the Market Hill in Woodbridge.

Claire Fried has designed the Christmas lights on the Market Hill in Woodbridge. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A Suffolk town’s Christmas lights have a touch of haute couture elegance this year, after being adorned by a former Paris dress designer.

Claire Fried has designed the Christmas lights on the Market Hill in Woodbridge.

Claire Fried has designed the Christmas lights on the Market Hill in Woodbridge. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Thirty years in French fashion came in useful for Claire Fried when dreaming up the decorations for Woodbridge’s Market Hill.

“I had the idea of dressing the trees in beautiful diamonds,” said Claire, who now runs Sant Studio with her two sisters in The Thoroughfare.

“I love that the lights reveal their sculptural shape.”

After presenting a series of sketches to the town council, Claire found funding for the lights from local businesses and private donors.


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As well as dressing the trees outside the Shire Hall, she also honoured a Woodbridge tradition by lighting up smaller firs mounted above shops surrounding the square.

“I think it’s very beautiful,” she said. “It should look especially lovely for people coming out of St Mary’s church over Christmas.”

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Claire, who prefers to call the decorations ‘winter lights’, hopes they will continue to illuminate the dark evenings when Christmas has passed.

During her three decades in Paris, Claire latched onto the city’s ‘cafe society’ custom, with historic squares used as points of convergence for locals and tourists.

“I believe we should light up our town centres,” she said. “In Paris, the idea is that the street belongs to everyone. Never has that felt more relevant.”

If asked to decorate Market Hill next year, Claire has even more ambitious plans in mind.

The job of putting this year’s lights in position was carefully carried out by local firm, Homeforce.

Local support came from Bedfords Estate Agents, Woodbridge Violins, Vanil, Homespun, Chattertons, Darcy B, Blue Bay, Hannah Stowe, Fanny and Frank, Chenevix, Anna, The Kings Head, The Strawberry Cafe, The Angel, The Galley restaurant, Rackhams and Just Hair.

The square will be lit up when the Rotary Club of Woodbridge presents the 64th Open Air Carol Service, from 6.30pm on Monday, December 21.

The service will be followed by a visit from Father Christmas, who will distribute sweets to young children.

A collection will be made, with the net proceeds donated to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

Lanterns can be purchased for the event from Woodbridge Violins on Market Hill.

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