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Friday, May 04, 2007

Theif Makes off With Tsunami Aid Lace

Last year we were thrilled to learn that the then upcoming BBC production of Jane Eyre was creating jobs for tsunami survivors by helping to rebuild the lace industry. Unfortunately, there are some really low people in this world:

Fashion raiders leave aid project in tatters

Ed Thomas

A FASHION designer from Belsize Park is distraught after thieves stole an entire collection of clothes that were going to raise funds for tsunami survivors.

Andrea Galer, who famously tailored Richard E Grant's overcoat for the film Withnail and I, has lost months of work and thousands of pounds following the break-in at her studio in Haverstock Hill.

Burglars entered on Friday night and made off with unique samples due to be marketed to leading fashion stores and sold to aid Sri Lankan survivors of the 2004 tsunami.

"Every single item in the collection has gone, about 20 pieces of clothing," said Ms Galer, who set up the Power of Hands Foundation to help Sri Lankan lace makers.

"It constitutes everything I have been working on for the past four months. I have financed this entire project by myself and built it up over two years.

"The clothes were just getting ready to be presented to the big fashion stores.

"Now the whole collection is lost. This project was designed to save lives. It makes me very sad."

Ms Galer's clothes have graced the silver screen for productions including Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie's Poirot and Spooks.

Having started out her career 30 years ago in a shop in England's Lane, she has become a leading designer highly sought-after by film and television directors.

As well as designing for the big screen, she is also passionate about helping the traditional Sri Lankan lace makers rebuild their lives following the tsunami disaster.

"I am the only person in the world who is helping this group of people," she added.

"The Power of Hands Foundation is a huge project, and these were the first samples aimed at helping the lace makers rebuild their lives.

"The whole collection has been taken by someone who either doesn't know what they've got their hands on or who is deliberately trying to sabotage the project.

"It looks like a professional job. The door wasn't forced open but may have been opened with a special key."

Police have launched an investigation into the burglary.

A spokeswoman said the break-in took place around 11pm, just at the time when the nearby pub would have been closing up.

"Given this was on a Friday night, there is a strong chance that witnesses might have seen something suspicious.

"All the ladies' items were made from Sri Lankan silk. No arrests have been made at this stage and enquiries are continuing."

If you have information which might help the police, call 020-7404 1212.

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