Frocks, flairs and frills: NGV showcases fashion through the ages

Published:  February 12, 2016
Tara Watson

Where does Australia sit in a sartorial global context and what defines Australian fashion? Answers to these questions will be explored as the first major survey of Australian fashion opens at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in March 2016; showcasing more than 120 works from over 90 designers.





Presenting 200 Years of Australian Fashion as part of the Cultural Program of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The NGV has collected fashion and textiles, with a never-before seen collection of incredible scope, the ambitious exhibition will be largest survey of Australian fashion ever executed.

Two public programs will be hosted by the NGV in conjunction with the exhibition, with leading fashion designers, curators and commentators examining what is Australian fashion and what separates Australian designers from the rest of the world.

“The Festival is proud to feature 200 Years of Australian Fashion as part of our Cultural Program. This NGV exhibition reaffirms the influence Australian designers have and celebrates our nation’s creative achievements over 200 years,” said Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival CEO Graeme Lewsey.

Some of the most prolific designs to be exhibited include Australia’s earliest known surviving dress (c1805), a 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.

Rainbow tartan feather suit, Romance Was Born, Sydney est. 2005

Rainbow tartan feather suit, Romance Was Born, Sydney est. 2005

Australian history in fashion will feature at the forefront the collection, traveliing through iconic and milestone moments from early dressmakers and tailors, the nation’s first department stores, such as Buckley & Nunn, David Jones, Farmer and Co. and Bright & Hitchcock’s- and fashion trends through the ages.

“Australian fashion design has been informed by its geography, resources, migration and its response to international trends,” said Director of the NGV Tony Ellwood. “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.”

The exhibit also celebrates Australian contemporary design, with a newly commissioned work by Dion Lee and fashion from designers Akira, Richard Nylon, Ellery and Toni Maticevski, MaterialByProduct, Romance Was Born, Di$count Universe, Pageant, PAM, Alpha60, Karla Spetic, Lui Hon and Strateas Carlucci, along with independent fashion garments from the Fashion Design Council.

200 Years of Australian Fashion
5 March- 31 July, 2016
NGV Australia, The Ian Potter Centre
Exhibition fees apply.
Head over here to learn more.

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