1st year BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design students worked to put on a live performance in full costume, set in post-war Britain to celebrate the work of the WI.

The campus become a riot of music and colour as 1st years performed a flash mob style dance whenever an air raid siren went off.

Jambusters by Julie Summers tells the story of the Women’s Institute, beginning with the first English group in Wallisdown and documenting the important War work the women carried out through real life anecdotes and diaries. Ms Summers, who attended the event, kindly agreed to lend AUB the trademark name, Jambusters, to use as the title for this year’s EX:I unit.

Designer’s Context: Jambusters, designed by Sarah Magill

Despite the severe restrictions on buying habits, women found ways to remain fashionable and feminine, even though many of them took on traditionally male employment roles requiring durable, practical clothing. Women wore trousers paired with floral headscarves; hats were unrationed and a ‘Beauty as Duty’ campaign was launched by the government. Women became savvy in their coupon spending and purchased staple, long-lasting garments. They participated in ‘Make-do and Mend’ classes to learn how to repair garments and reuse items, such as cutting a woman’s suit from a man’s. Many of these classes were held by the Women’s Institute.

Fabrics were made mostly from natural fibres or rayon, which was widely in use by then. Wool, silk and rayon crepe and various linens provided beautiful drape for the popular tea dresses and printed striped and floral cottons were commonly used for blouses. Although War suggests a bleak period, this was not reflected in the colour of dress during this period; colours were rich and bright and included various shades of red, ochre, powder blue, coral, forest green and plum.