200 Years of Australian Fashion

March 14, 2016

Photo Gallery by FIONA LEONARD.


Members of the Cliteratti Club were delighted to don our finest handbags and gladrags to attend the glittering media preview of the first major survey of Australian fashion at the National Gallery. The exhibition presents more than 120 works from over 90 designers and celebrates Australia’s unique voice in the fashion industry.

Our photographer and CC Member Fiona Leonard captured some of the works by contemporary designers, such as Akira, Richard Nylon, Ellery and Toni Maticevski, and others.  The showcase features standout designs from the last 200 years including Australia’s earliest known surviving dress (c1805), a glamorous 1950s blue feathered ball gown by Collins Street salon La Petite, and a dress from Collette Dinnigan’s ground-breaking 1995 Paris runway show, where she became the first Australian designer invited to show on-schedule at Paris Fashion Week.

“Australian fashion design has been informed by its geography, resources, migration and its response to international trends,” said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV. “The NGV is proud to showcase the ways in which designers have responded to these conditions with ingenuity, humour and irony in dialogue with the wider world.”

The exhibition also features a show-stopping catwalk of garments that celebrate the vibrant output of the Fashion Design Council (FDC), which was established in 1983 to nurture independent Australian fashion design. Well-known designers associated with this movement include Jenny Bannister, Sara Thorn and Kara Baker.

Iconic and milestone moments of Australian fashion history are displayed from early dressmakers and tailors who adapted European fashions to the Australian lifestyle, class system and climate during the nineteenth century. The exhibition focuses on the nation’s first department stores, such as Buckley & Nunn, David Jones, Farmer and Co. and Bright & Hitchcock’s, which were critical in disseminating fashionable dress during this time.

The colour and experimentation of the 60s are also celebrated in a colourful and playful display featuring mini-dresses, including designs by Prue Acton, who was the first female Australian designer to show in New York. The remarkable knitwear from Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson’s Flamingo Park boutique of the 1970s will also have a dedicated display, illuminating the designers’ landmark range of Australiana-inspired garments.

The richness of contemporary fashion is also repped in the stunning work of Australian designers MaterialByProduct, Romance Was Born, Di$count Universe, Pageant, PAM, Alpha60, Karla Spetic, Lui Hon and Strateas Carlucci.

200 Years of Australian Fashion is on display at the Ian Potter Gallery in the Federation Square location of the NGV and is highly recommended.  There are dozens of fashion films and events running in conjunction with the exhibition and it runs until 31 July 2016.  Visit www.ngv.vic.gov.au for bookings and more information.

About the photographer:
Fiona Leonard is a naturopath, personal trainer and has a Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography.
She appreciates a fine red, good cheese, rich viandes and vegetables in all their guises.
In her time spare from seeing the best of Melbourne live music and maintaining her reputation
as a goddess of style, she attends and photographs fabulous exhibitions and events.

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