Rachel Davies: Ellen’s Dress


Working with Cheshire College students

Taking inspiration from the strong visual lines of Chester’s historic buildings and from local folklore, Rachel created an exquisite conceptual piece that combined the symbolism and status of Tudor garments with architectural patterns and multiple elements such as the removable collars, cuffs and bodices commonly worn before the Civil War.

The dress was made entirely from second-hand shirts and blouses from Chester charity shops. It was displayed in Chester Cathedral in March 2022. Rachel also held workshops with students at Cheshire College, creating a variety of textile installations using upcycling skills.

The Ellen of the dress is Ellen Aldersey, the daughter of the Sheriff of Chester who, in 1573, defied her father and eloped through Pepper Gate with a penniless young man. Her father ordered that the gate be locked, and thereafter, instead of locking the stable door after the horse, Cestrians talk about ‘locking a gate after a daughter has flown’.

Instagram @racheldaviesstudio