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New Cloak for the High Sheriff of Greater London

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The very first official ceremonial garment for High Sheriffs of Greater London has been designed and created in collaboration with London College of Fashion (LCF), UAL, Making for Change and Fine Cell Work. It will be worn for the first time by the new Lady High Sheriff of Greater London, Heather Phillips, when she is installed today, 28 April. The symbolic cloak is intended to be be passed on to all future women to hold the position of High Sheriff of Greater London for the next 100 or so years.

The bespoke cloak has been designed collaboratively, and features illustrations by three London College of Fashion students. The students took part in a competition open to LCF students by responding to a creative brief issued by the HSGL’s office in June 2021 which asked for ideas that reflected the capital’s diverse culture and people as well as the core behaviours that the HSGL team feel represent Londoners at their best; fairness, honesty, respect, responsibility and kindness.

The winning designs from LCF’s students were then intricately embroidered onto the garment by prisoners in collaboration with Fine Cell Work, a charity and social enterprise that teaches prisoners and ex-prisoners to make high-quality needlework that boosts their self-worth, instils self-discipline and fosters hope so that stitchers can leave prison with the skills and self-belief to lead independent and crime free lives, which has been supported by the Weavers in the past.

The individual embroideries were then assembled and constructed into a final garment by participants of Making for Change, a fashion training and manufacturing unit, established by London College of Fashion, UAL and the Ministry of Justice, within HMP Downview Women’s prison.

The finished garment is a multi-coloured cape with intricate designs adorning both sides. Key symbols include the High Sheriff’s badge, the HSGL’s lived values of good citizenship, depicted in both sign language and braille, and artistic interpretations of London’s many landmarks, geography and people resulting in a physical celebration of Greater London’s diversity, inclusivity and culture. It has been designed with sustainability in mind to be passed on for at least the next 100 years.

The project and collaboration has been generously supported not only by The Weavers but also the Broderers, the Drapers, the Haberdashers, and the Merchant Taylors. These contributions are reflected in the garment itself, which includes all five of the livery company crests printed into the lining and designed by Cailtin Reed, studying BA (Hons) Textiles Print at London College of Fashion.

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