Opening at the National Gallery of Victoria on Friday 1 March 2019, The Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift showcases more than 150 garments from Parisien haute couture and international fashion houses that have been generously gifted to the NGV by leading philanthropist Krystyna Campbell-Pretty.
Featuring a rare suite of Gabrielle Chanel’s little black dresses, the deftly draped haute couture gowns of Madame Grès and Yves Saint Laurent’s ground-breaking women’s tuxedo Le Smoking, suit from 1967, the gift also includes a rendition of Alexander McQueen’s iconoclastic tartan gown famously worn by Sarah Jessica Parker to New York’s Met Gala in 2006, to a dress from Dior’s debut 1947 spring–summer collection.
The exhibition traces key moments in fashion history and illuminates some of the most ground-breaking designs from the nineteenth century to today – most of which have never before been exhibited in Australia.
The works have been generously purchased by Krystyna Campbell-Pretty for the NGV Collection in memory of her late husband, Harold Campbell-Pretty. Since 2015, Krystyna has gifted more than 250 garments, working closely with the NGV to strengthen its holdings in key areas.
Offering visitors a fascinating insight into the minds of history’s greatest fashion designers, the exhibition also includes original sketches and workbooks by designers including Jeanne Lanvin and Madame Grès, embroidered samples from Lesage, fashion photography from Paris fashion houses such as Givenchy, and rare early fashion magazines, including Vogue, Les modes and Gazette du bon ton. These materials form the basis of a new specialist fashion research library created for the NGV: the Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Research Collection.
“Krystyna Campbell-Pretty’s support of the Fashion and Textiles Collection is unprecedented for the department and continues to acquire major acquisitions for the collection, including both iconic works and garments by previously unrepresented designers,” said Tony Ellwood AM, Director NGV. “We are proud to present a selection of collection highlights through this exhibition and, with them, an arresting view of the world’s best fashion and haute couture.”
“Fashion can be simultaneously artistic, pragmatic, and a crucial physical record of complex construction skills and techniques that are all but gone,” said Krystyna Campbell-Pretty. “For me, fashion is also visual and social history, reflecting the role, perception and lives of women in society.”
“I am passionate about building the NGV Fashion and Textiles Collection, as well as broadening my philanthropic efforts in a variety of other cultural and educational programs, especially those directed to children. I hope audiences enjoy this collection, which now belongs to all Victorians and to all Australians.”
The Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift
NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Exhibition: 1 March – 14 July 2019
For more information, visit: www.ngv.melbourne for details.
Image: ALIX, Paris, (couture house) 1934–42, Madame GRÈS (designer), French 1903–93. Evening dresses, 1939 spring – summer, c.1980, Silk (jersey) measurements variable. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne – Purchased with funds donated by Mrs Krystyna Campbell-Pretty, 2015