Joanna Lumley will be shedding the fashion finery she wore during her modelling career in the 1960s and while playing the part of Patsy in Ab Fab.
The actress has decided to give the clothes to auction, with proceeds going to her favourite charities including the Gurkha Welfare Trust, after being inspired by M&S's Shwopping campaign. The outfits, which include the Jean Muir clothes she modelled, will be sold in September by Kerry Taylor auctions.
Lumley is spokeswoman for the Shwopping campaign, which has seen shoppers donate more than half a million garments in store over the last six weeks, which are all given to Oxfam. The chain store is hoping that more than a million cast-offs will be donated by the end of the month, with items either sold in Oxfam shops, sent to Senegal where they are sold to local market traders, or used for fabric to stuff car upholstery.
Lumley said she believes there is a much-needed step change in people's attitudes to conspicuous consumption.
“I think it's dying of its own accord, I think it becomes disgusting: people opening their cupboards to 400 pairs of white high heels or something, and you go, 'You're ill actually'. To a certain extent, magazines, advertising and sales pushes have tried to [create the image] of a carefree kind-of girl who has 80 bags. You'd want to give her a tight slap,” she said.
“I was born after the war, and we were brought up by our mothers with the notion of make do and mend. A new thing was quite a thing: during the holidays we might go out and get one new skirt. On the continent, when I was growing up and was a model, a French girl would choose one well made tweed skirt, one beautiful cashmere jersey, her hair would be glossily done. She would have one Hermes silk scarf - and she'd look like Grace Kelly. We've got a more hectic, hooligan attitude here which is very good for fashion but sometimes leads you down the primrose path to hell.”
She believes we simply need to have more respect. “Before you buy things, think about it, and before you throw them away, think about it. Why can't schools give a rule: 'Never throw clothes away'?”
The Shwopping campaign is aiming to kick start a 'buy one, give one' culture on the UK high street to try to prevent the one billion garments that are thrown into UK landfill each year - some one in four of all items bought. Every M&S has bins to donate clothes, and the company hopes to eventually get one garment back for every one sold: a total of 350m a year. A new YouGov poll, published tomorrow [MON] has revealed that, in contrast to the Duchess of Cambridge and Livia Firth championing repeat wearing of clothes, one fifth of people in the UK have binned an outfit after just one wear. Three quarters of people have thrown unwanted clothes into the bin over the past twelve months, as opposed to recycling them, while one in five women admitted to having more than 100 items in their wardrobe.
Looking round the Oxfam sorting depot in Milton Keynes, where the Shwopping garments are sent to be sorted; donated books are scanned for the online store and bric-a-brac is sifted through, Lumley declares of her character Patsy: “She wouldn't understand anything of this: it would literally mean nothing to her. She would be amazed, quite possibly disgusted, but actually she'd have no idea: she only wants Chanel that has been given to here - she doesn't have any feeling about this. She is landfill.
“Edina is the one who is the shopper. She'd buy everything that is new and fashionable, whether it fits her or suits her or not. Ab Fab shined a light on fashion and the notion of how it can become extremely foolish, and can lead you into an area of great folly and overspending.”