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National Gallery of Victoria’s newest exhibition is 200 Years of Australian Fashion and it’s one for the fashionistas and those interested in Australia’s social and cultural history.

The thoughtfully created and displayed exhibition contains more than 120 works from over 90 designers and it’s the first and largest survey of Australian fashion ever.

The exhibition moves in chronological order from 1800s to the present day. Naturally I expect that you’ll love the clothes but pay particular attention to the exhibition design and the curatorial direction which really enhances the small details and highlights the similarities between garments made decades and centuries apart.

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The sound design by the NGV’s inhouse team is also excellent, with thought given to creating a particular mood or ambience rather than just a mere playlist of music from a specific era.

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The exhibition starts with rare garments from the 1800s and some of Australia’s oldest known surviving dresses…

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….introduces you to the elegant interiors of Australia’s early department stores….

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…explores the handiwork and workshops of the colonies’ early tailors and dressmakers…

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….makes your head spin with the dreamy gowns of 50s and 60s couturiers, including this glorious blue feathered ball gown by Collins Street boutique La Petite…

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http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/200-years-of-australian-fashion/

…moving to the swinging 60s and the scandal of Jean Shrimpton’s appearance at the Melbourne Cup….

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….brings to life the vibrancy of the 80s and the influence of the Fashion Design Council…

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…plus a replica of the famed Flamingo Park boutique by fashion icons Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee (who were kind enough to pose for a photo for me!)….

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…then takes you to contemporary works from some of Australia’s best known talent.

Notice how beading of the Akira dress, made by a Japanese man in 90s Australia, echoes the intricate beadwork of a dress by a couturier for (Anglo) establishment in the 50s….

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…the shapes and decoration of the Richard Nylon hats reference the collection of vintage hats…

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…the hand-pleating of this Dion Lee dress applies the same intricate techniques as this 50s gown…

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…this Aurelio Costarella dress uses tulle, draping and embroidering in a similar fashion to this bustier by a talented dressmaker from last century.

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The exhibition closes with a specially commissioned sculptural work by Dion Lee called ‘Aperture’. Slowly spinning from the ceiling is a four metre tall black jersey gown sewed with Swarovski crystals, throwing off sparkling light on the walls in a dancing play of lights.

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200 Years of Australian Fashion is a really well-developed and immersive exhibition, full of lovely artefacts and interesting ideas. It’ll make you proud that our country has fostered such a wealth of fashion talent for the past two centuries.


 

200 Years of Australian Fashion, The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia at Federation Square, Melbourne

5 March – 31 July 2016

Exhibition fees apply