The second half of my very informative (and one-on-one) fashion-focused tour with the NGV guide was to the Dressed to Rule exhibition.

I never knew that the NGV had such a well-preserved collection of Chinese imperial robes, and this exhibition includes robes worn by members of the imperial court and even the Emperor, as well as various accessories such as queasy little shoes for bound feet.

Each of the robes is laden with magnificient, jewel-coloured embroidery, with each design containing some special meaning. You can be overwhelmed with all the symbolic commentary on the display plaques, so I think a guide, who can point out the various features on the garments as they talk, is a better way of absorbing their beauty. My favourite robes were the summer robes featuring embroidery on delicate gauze, as the filmy material revealed a further embroidered robe in a contrasting colour underneath.