The first major survey of Australian fashion has opened at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) presenting more than 120 works from over 90 designers, that celebrates Australia’s unique voice in the fashion industry.
Alongside works by contemporary designers, such as Akira, Richard Nylon, Ellery and Toni Maticevski, 200 Years of Australian Fashion showcases 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.”
A highlight is the never-before-seen exclusive commission for NGV by Dion Lee: a four metre-tall, Swarovski crystal-encrusted gown lit from within and radiating a constellation of light. Signposting the future of Australian fashion, the commission demonstrates the designer’s forward-thinking approach and innovative design practice.
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 also focuses on the output of 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 60’s is celebrated through a focused display featuring mini-dresses, designed by Prue Acton, who was the first female Australian designer to show in New York. Remarkable knit wear from Jenny Kee’s Flamingo Park boutique of the 1970s has a dedicated display, illuminating the designer’s landmark range of Australiana-inspired garments.
The richness of contemporary fashion will also be on show in the work of Australian designers, MaterialByProduct, Romance Was Born, Di$count Universe, Pageant, PAM, Alpha60, Karla Spetic, Lui Hon and Strateas Carlucci.
The NGV has collected fashion and textiles for more than 120 years and boasts an outstanding collection of incredible breadth, quality and craftsmanship. Since the 1970s, the NGV has organised close to 50 fashion and textile exhibitions. 200 Years of Australian Fashion is the largest survey of Australian fashion to date.
200 Years of Australian Fashion
NGV Australia – Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition continues to 31 July 2016
Entry fees apply
For more information, visit: www.ngv.vic.gov.au for details.
Image: Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, fashion designers, in 200 Years of Australian Fashion at NGV Australia in Flamingo Park room – photo by Wayne Taylor