Hartlepool art school lecturer recalls making outfits that helped launch the Spice Girls

The announcement of the Spice Girls tour next year sparked fond memories for a Hartlepool art school lecturer of the outfits she designed for the group.

Wednesday, 5th December 2018, 14:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th December 2018, 14:40 pm
Jane Havakin, programme leader of the Costume Interpretation with Design degree course at The Northern School of Art (Credit: The Northern School of Art, Russ Norman)

Jane Havakin, programme leader of the The Northern School of Art's costume interpretation with design degree at its university-level campus in Hartlepool, recalled seeing the group performing in her designs on Top of The Pops in the 1990s.

The five-piece pop sensation of Sporty, Scary, Baby, Ginger and Posh Spice – aka Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Geri Horner (née Halliwell) and Victoria Beckham (née Adams) - also sported outfits created by Jane in a promotional poster for HMV.

Ginger Spice and Posh Spice wearing clothes designed and made by Jane Havakin (Image from Janes press cuttings archive)

She first met the singers before they were famous, just before they had their first number one hit with ‘Wannabe’ in 1996.

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They approached her to borrow outfits she was showing at a fashion trade event.

“I turned them down to start with,” Jane said. “Wannabe singers and novice actors as well as well-known celebrities looking for free clothes are a common feature of the industry shows.

“They told me that they were going to be the biggest band in the world and I wasn’t entirely convinced. I finally gave in, though, and my sales went up when they proved me wrong about their success!”

Cat Deely modelling Jane Havakins designs (Credit: Jane Havakin)

Jane meanwhile had recently been named as the Best Avant Garde designer in the UK in a competition run by the British Design Council and Clothes Show Live.

As part of the prize Jane was flown first class to Hong Kong where her designs were shown in a catwalk show alongside Vivienne Westwood designs.

Her clothing designs then went worldwide including supplying Harrods and Galleries Lafayette from her Billingham base.

Alongside the Spice Girls she also chalked up other celebrity clients including dressing Zoe Ball when she was on Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast, while Cat Deeley was Jane’s model before both of their careers took off.

Zoe Ball wearing clothes designed and made by Jane Havakin (Image from Janes press cuttings archive)

After running her successful fashion business, she moved into teaching to share her expertise.

She still puts her industry contacts to good use for students on the costume degree course she currently runs at The Northern School of Art, where every student gets the chance to work on a live assignment for a real client out in industry.

They also have the chance to do work experience for a wide range of projects which recently included a stint in the wardrobe departments of BBC Three drama Killing Eve.

“We are so proud of our course,” Jane commented. “Students come from around the world as well as all over the UK to study with us and most then go off to work in some amazing places and have great careers.”

(3rd from left, second row) Jane designed the outfit worn by Maria Doyle Kennedy in The Commitments (Image from Janes personal archive)

Alumni from the course have worked on a huge range of dramas including ITV’s Victoria, the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Wolf Hall, starring DamienLewis and Disney’s Rogue One – Star Wars film.

“If Victoria Beckham isn’t designing the clothes for her former bandmates for their tour next year I can recommend lots of very talented students and former students who would make some fabulous outfits for them,” Jane joked.

Cat Deely modelling Jane Havakins designs (Credit: Jane Havakin)