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You shall go to the ball . . . Lesley Quayle (left) and Marie Symonds show some of Spotswood’s choice fashion. Photos: Supplied

 

By Robyn Bristow

“You shall go to the ball Cinderella”.

Spotswood might not be the fashion capital of Milan but it is no stranger to the world of haute couture.

In a former woodshed in the small rural settlement just north of Cheviot, there is high fashion fit for Prince Charming and his princess.

It is a collection of gowns, suits and accessories, from London, Timaru, Rangiora, Kaikoura and beyond, borne out of a passion for finery, panache and an ambition to open a hire business.

Many saw Lesley and Garry Quayle’s His ‘N’ Hers Formal Attire Hire @ Spotswood as a “crazy idea”, but Lesley says the response has been amazing, particularly with Cheviot’s 125th “Through the Era’s Ball”, just around the corner.

To date around 24 people have chosen their outfits for the sellout ball.

“It is not huge, but it is a lot for us,” says Lesley. Their skills were honed with the recent Hurunui Youth ball where guys in particular were able to find a suit to fit, with a little alteration here and there.

Lesley her appetite for a hire shops goes back to the days when she and her three sisters were always looking for any excuse to get dressed up.

“We are obsessive about clothes and I have now taken that a little bit further,” she says. Her husband was quick to get on board with the idea.

“Garry has only just started but he has caught up very quickly,” she says.

“We haven’t done this before, but it has always been an ambition of mine to have a hire business for evening /Ball Gowns.”

They scour shops from Rangiora to Kaikoura, online at E-Bay and other sites and Lesley’s sisters help up from Timaru and beyond.

“Some of Garry’s suits have been brought from London” says Lesley.

The hire shop is housed in an extension of the former woodshed which was originally extended to sell extra produce when the couple moved to Spotswood, from the city, fulltime three years ago.

It morphed into a “wee shop selling knick knacks” and to get rid of “junk” through the need to downsize their belongings after their six year commute to the property at weekends, came to an end.

“Then along came the hire shop. So we built on again, increased the veranda and put the hire shop in the front. “That is quickly filling up as well,” says Lesley.

At present there is over 120 formal suits and 40 classical modern and vintage dinner suits along with about 140 gowns, retro, vintage and classic ranging in size from 6 to 18, plus shoes and accessories.

“I am desperately on the look out for larger sizes,” says Lesley who can also do alterations, and has started making accessories.

“We have everything to complete an outfit. A lot of rural people don’t like to go to the busy city centres to buy an outfit that they will probably only wear once.

“We are affordable and make it a lot of fun, with a lot of personal attention,” says Lesley.

“The local people have got on board this crazy idea and the competition is on who will be the best dressed.”

Much of the clothing, left in store, can be seen on the catwalk at a fashion show as part of the Cheviot Spring Festival’s celebrations on Saturday, September 8 at 12 noon.

“We haven’t done this before, but it has always been an ambition of mine to have a hire business for evening/ ball gowns.”

They scour shops from Rangiora to Kaikoura and go online to websites such as
eBay, while Lesley’s sisters help out from Timaru and beyond.

“Some of Garry’s suits have been brought from London,” Lesley says.
The hire shop is housed in an extension of the former woodshed, originally
extended to sell produce when the couple moved to Spotswood from
Christchurch three years ago.

It morphed into a “wee shop selling knick-knacks” and to get rid of “junk”
through the need to downsize their belongings after their six-year commute to the property at weekends came to an end.

“Then along came the hire shop. So we built on again, increased the veranda and put the hire shop in the front.

“That is quickly filling up as well,” Lesley says.

At present there are more than 120 formal suits and 40 classical, modern and vintage dinner suits, along with about 140 gowns – retro, vintage and classic – ranging in size from 6 to 18, plus shoes and accessories.

“I am desperately on the lookout for larger sizes,” says
Lesley, who can also do alterations and has started making accessories.

“We have everything to complete an outfit. A lot of rural people don’t like to go to the busy city centres to buy an outfit that they will probably only wear once.

“We are affordable and make it a lot of fun, with a lot of personal attention.

“The local people have got on board with this crazy idea and the competition is on for who will be the best dressed.”

Much of the clothing not hired out for the ball will be seen on the catwalk at a
fashion show on Saturday, September 8, at midday as part of the Cheviot Spring Festival celebrations from September 7 to September 9.