The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition to open in Canberra

The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition Sarah SnookFrom 1950s Dungatar to 2019 Canberra, original costumes from hit film The Dressmaker will be unveiled at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) on 18 April 2019.

The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition, designed by Marion Boyce, features a spectacular range of haute couture worn by the film’s stars and celebrates the artistry of the film’s sumptuous designs, as well as the transformational power of fashion.

Vistors will be able to go ‘behind the seams’ of a diverse range of elegant vintage fashion worn by Hollywood stars and home-grown acting talents including Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook, Judy Davis, Rebecca Gibney  and more.

Costuming is key to any film, but fashion took on a profound level of importance in The Dressmaker. The costumes were created by award-winning designer and exhibition curator Marion Boyce – who is internationally-renowned for her artistry, having worked across film and television in Australia and overseas.

The designer was nominated for an Emmy and Costume Designer’s Guild Award in 2008 for The Starter Wife, as well as winning the AACTA for Best Costume Design in a Television Series for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries in 2014. The Dressmaker also earned Boyce multiple awards including Best Costume Design at the 2015 AACTA awards.

“Costumes can become as iconic as the films they were created for, and The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition is a perfect example of fashion, design and storytelling working together in perfect harmony,” said Jan Müller, CEO NFSA. “We’re excited to have a little piece of Dungatar in our recently refurbished gallery, and we hope visitors will love it as much as they loved the film.”

“The NFSA preserves, collects and shares countless original costumes from Australia’s film and television programs, so The Dressmaker is a perfect follow up to our successful exhibition Heath Ledger: A Life in Pictures, and we look forward to welcoming fashionistas and film lovers alike.”

The Dressmaker is a bittersweet, comedy-drama set in early 1950s Australia. It tells the story of Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet), a beautiful and talented woman who, as a child, was blamed for a crime she didn’t commit. After years in exile, working in exclusive Paris fashion houses, she returns to her remote home town, Dungatar.

Tilly reconciles with her eccentric mother Molly (Judy Davis) and unexpectedly falls in love with Teddy (Liam Hemsworth). Armed with her sewing machine and sense of style, she transforms the women of the town and rights the wrongs of the past. Tilly has revenge in her heart and the town’s obsession with couture is their unravelling.

The exhibition takes visitors behind the seams of the film’s magnificent costumes. Audiences will be taken into the designer’s workshop to discover the level of detail and artistry behind each garment. To distinguish the character of Tilly, the designer Margot Wilson worked alongside Boyce to create Winslet’s costumes.

Set against the earthy tones of the harsh Australian landscape, the palette of brightly coloured fashion conveys the theme of transformation and underlines the narrative. For inspiration, Boyce researched the work of Parisian couturiers at that time, but added a twist of forward thinking. Every detail was considered, including elements that cannot be seen on camera.

“We wanted a palette of colours, almost jewel-like, amidst this dusty outback environment to showcase Tilly’s sumptuous designs,” said Boyce. “The early 50s was a really incredibly exciting time. The sort of fun came back into clothing. There had been decades of restraint and holding back from the war and suddenly the clothes were freer and they made you want to dance again.”

“This period of fashion also celebrated the sensual female form, with small waist and high bust to define the figure. When you get that definition right in a piece, a woman can look amazing,” added Boyce.

Based on the novel by Rosalie Ham, the film’s vision was brought to life by an extraordinary creative team of Australian talents including director Jocelyn Moorhouse and producer Sue Maslin.

The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, McCoy Circuit, Acton (Canberra)
Exhibition: 18 April – 18 August 2019
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Sarah Snook in a costume from The Dressmaker by Marion Boyce (supplied)