The National Gallery of Victoria’s latest fashion exhibition celebrates 200 years of Australian fashion bringing together the work of more than 90 designers and creators from colonial times to present day.
The exhibition traces a myriad of trends and attributes, teasing out those that have shaped the development of Australian style, by focusing on four distinct periods –
Status 1805-1900 This grouping displays the fashions of the colonial times with an emphasis on the clothing of the well to do. Despite the difficulties of access to beautiful fabrics and trims, the exhibition showcases several beautiful gowns locally produced during this period. The skill, resourcefulness and ingenuity of the creators is incredible.
What today would seem to be eccentric, is this cape made from platypus fur, silk and cotton. Local furs and pelts were used extensively in this period. Despite its craftsmanship, it is difficult to imagine wrapping yourself in this.
Glamour 1920s – 1906s This period is wonderfully dealt with in the exhibition. It pays tribute to the ‘Paris End of Collins Street’ and its many couture salons and designers as well as referencing those in Sydney. There are some stunning gowns cleverly displayed in this section.
This outstanding La Petite creation (1958), embodies timeless glamour. Add a stylish heel and this gown is as up to date in this century as it was in the last. It has be the take home piece.
La Petite’s stunning creation in cornflower blue, has been expertly restored. A range of complex challenges were met, including dying the replaced feathers to match the original ones, integrating reproduction sequins and restoration of the bodice. The result is outstanding.
Hall Ludlow, another highly regarded Collins Street designer, is represented by this gold lame evening gown with a halter neckline and low back. It is a real knock out. Again, a timeless creation that would not be out of place on any of today’s red carpets.
Sydney avant-garde designer, Beril Jents rose to prominence in the 1950s designing for wealthy socialites and visiting celebrities. She is quoted as saying that the wedding dress featured here ‘was the most complex gown I had ever made. I felt I had built rather than created this dress!’.
The swinging sixties feature the highly acclaimed Norma Tullo, Prue Acton and names that will be familiar to most. Nostalgia is in the air.
Independence 1970s – 1990s There is a wide range of designers featured in this section that includes Jenny Bannister, Flamingo Park creators- Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, Maticevski, Collette Dinnigan, Martin Grant, Akira Isogawa and many more.
This shell bikini by Jenny Bannister is not short on the ‘Wow’ factor.
The impact of Akira Isogawa is recognised with the inclusion of this richly embroidered dress.
Contemporary 2000s – Now Dion Lee, Ellery and Maticevski are the major names that are presented here, but don’t overlook the lesser known designers whose vision and energy has real impact.
The final piece on show is a 4 metre tall gown featuring Swarovski crystals designed for the exhibition by Dion Lee. Dazzling and stunning, it is said to ‘signpost the future of Australian fashion’ as well as being a grand way to end this exciting exhibition.
The exhibition is now showing at –
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
From: 5 March 2016 to 31 July 2016
Open: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm daily