First Ever Ceremonial Garment Created for High Sheriff of Greater London
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 passed on to all future women to hold the position of High Sheriff of Greater London for the next 100 years.
The High Sheriff of Greater London (HSGL) has, until now, had no official costume. The post of HSGL was created in 1965 upon the establishment of Greater London itself and as such does not wear the traditional blue velvet court dress of other High Sheriffs, some of whose posts date back over 1,000 years. In 2021, a team of Lady High Sheriffs of Greater London decided to create a ‘heritage garment of the future’ that would be designed and created directly by Londoners and worn by future Lady High Sheriffs of Greater London to help increase the visibility of the role and its support of the UK Justice System.
The bespoke cloak has been designed collaboratively, and features illustrations by three BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging and Illustration students, Nerea Gómez Martin (first prize), Kay Fontaine (joint second prize) and Annabel McLaughlin (joint second prize). 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 designs were then judged and selected by an expert panel of artists and designers including, Willow Kemp (Kit Kemp Designs), Megan St Clair Morgan and Bethany Williams, in Autumn 2021.
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. 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 LCF and the Ministry of Justice, within HMP Downview Women’s prison. BA (Hons) Textiles Embroidery student, Scarlet Gray, assisted in this process by creating packs to help deliver workshops on the applique of the embroideries onto the garment along with Fine Cell Work embroidery leads.
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 by the Worshipful Company of Broderers, the Worshipful Company of Drapers, the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors and the Worshipful Company of Weavers. 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 LCF.