200 Years of Australian Fashion at the NGV, Melbourne

It's been relatively quiet on the sewing front lately. After finishing the Yaletown of a month ago, I sat down to finish my son's scrapbooks in time for his18th birthday at the beginning of April. Then a few days were taken up in preparation for the party for said birthday and the aftermath.(Fortunately, the dire warnings of those who knew we were having an 18th birthday party at home did not come to pass. Everyone had a good time, with no collateral damage to person or property!).

We've just come back from a few days' city break in Melbourne. Living in regional Australia, a couple of days' break in a city is a welcome novelty. We get our fill of shows, shops and restaurants in a few days, then head back to the tranquility. Brilliant.

My daughter and I made a beeline for the 200 Years of Australian Fashion Exhibition at the NGV. It was a great little exhibition. The stuff that fascinated me was the late 19th Century and fashion until the late 1950s. I spent  quite a while marvelling at the workmanship, and wondering "How in the heck did they make that?" Here are some of my highlights (I only wish I'd taken notes)

This dress was made to wear to the wedding of the wearer's daughter in a heavy satin. The black signifies that the wearer was in mourning for a close family member. The workmanship in those chevrons - made in layers of fabric - was something to behold, as was the trim at the bottom of the skirt, and the tiny pleats at centre front.

I wish I could remember something about this dress, other than to say there was an amazing amount of work in it.

Skipping a few decades...

This was perhaps my favourite dress, from the 1930s - simple but sumptuous with bias cut skirt made in peices, and shirring at the shoulder. The fabric was to die for. Just gorgeous.

This ensemble was made in linen - true!

Beaded dress from the 1950s

A wedding dress by Sydney couturier, Beril Jents from 1953. The hand made roses were just beautiful.

I could picture any of the above three dresses worn today. Absolute classics. My favourite is the halter dress above.

 And again, skipping a few decades. My daughter asked me whether this outfit was supposed to be for men or for women. Well, its for men, but I totally dig that corduruoy jacket! I remember blokes wearing ruffled shirts like this to dressy events when I was a young one.

In other news... today's picture-heavy post comes to you courtesy of my brand shiny new NBN connection. I've moaned about the prehistoric speeds of my late and unlamented satellite internet connection. By some miracle the National Broadband Network project has bestowed on us Wireless Broadband, and verily, our lives have changed, technologically speaking. The slow  speeds of our satellite connection were a major disincentive to post to the blog. I would read books while I waited for pictures to upload. Today I loaded these pictures in a matter of seconds. Yay! I will finally get to watch the Craftsy videos that I've subscribed to but got too frustrated with slow speeds to watch. Amazing.

I have been sewing too, with various levels of success, so a couple of sewing posts are in the offing.


  1. Oh my goodness, I wish a trip to Melbourne was on the cards for me. Those dresses are stunning.

    We also have slow internet (Perth suburbia - slow as molasses) so I usually download and save Craftsy videos using a Firefox plugin, then watch them later on my tablet. Also means I'm not using bandwidth every time I want to watch something again.

    1. I know that slow speeds aren't reserved for us here in the countryside..one of my brothers has the same issue in suburban Sydney too. It will be interesting to see how long decent speeds hold up over time - I might use your tip for watching Craftsy videos yet!

  2. How lovely to have been able to escape to Melbourne for a break. Thanks for sharing those lovely dresses. Looking forward to seeing your latest sewing.

    1. The exhibition is well worth seeing - these are only a small part of what is shown, from 1816 to the present day.

  3. Terribly slow internet here in the ACT as well. They've got NBN on the north side of Canberra but here on the south, it's like dialup most of the time, when it works at all. Thank goodness for cellphone wifi hotspot!

    1. My husband would hotspot his phone too - I never got around to figuring out how to do that!

  4. Thanks for the terrific pictures. I think I need to visit my sister in Melbourne....


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