Chelsea charity shop promises designer Christmas events


The Red Cross is pleanning three special events promising top designers, Edwardian glamour, fine art and a mystery celebrity.


By Julia Ross

Chelsea’s Red Cross charity shop plans three special events before Christmas promising top designers, Edwardian glamour, fine art and a mystery celebrity.

The Old Church Street branch celebrates hit TV series Downton Abbey on 17th November with original ball gowns, suits, accessories and a secret special guest.

Their Designer Event follows on 1st December and the Art and Sculpture event concludes things on 15th December.

Manager Cathy Shimmel said: “Everybody needs an uplift at the moment- what we want to do is to uplift people as much as possible.”

Their events are internationally renowned, with people previously attending from Europe and America.

The Designer Event – a regular feature – sees people queuing round the block for that one special item.

Chanel, Ms Shimmel says, remains a favourite, followed by Gucci and Prada.

Designers regularly donate to the shop, particularly for events like these, meaning brand new items often appear.

Downton Abbey’s event is inspired by the successful series and will include original theatre costumes.

On the Art and Sculpure night, art, donated for sale by the likes of the Saatchi Gallery, will adorn the courtyard with a champagne reception.

Mike Pennick, British Red Cross’s retail operations manager says events like these contribute significantly to funds.

He said: “These special events catch peoples’ attention and get them thinking about the potential of charity shopping.”

Favourite of Mary Portas and local celebrities like Mark Owen, the store specialises in high quality vintage couture at high street prices.

Chelsea resident Pamela Griffiths is a longstanding patron.

She said: “It’s very much a local shop- you tend to meet your neighbours in there.

“Most people know Cathy. The staff are incredibly friendly.

“You don’t know what you’re going to find and that’s what makes it so exciting.”

In a recent half price sale one customer paid £60 for a Valentino jacket.

Ms Shimmel feels the recession has only boosted profits, deeming trade “exceptional.”

Mr Pennick admits though, that like other charities, the recession has challenged Red Cross.

He added: “We are grateful for people who continue to support us, as people need charity shops more than ever when economic times are tough.”

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