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The Dominique Sirop Collection

The National Gallery of Victoria announces the $1.4 million acquisition of one of the world’s most sought-after fashion collections and the most significant French haute couture ever to be acquired by an Australian museum, with works by Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Vionnet and Jeanne Lanvin, and an outstanding fashion research archive including rare workbooks and photography by Yves Saint Laurent and Madame Grès.

The Dominique Sirop Collection, developed over several decades by Parisian collector and former Givenchy couturier Dominique Sirop, was purchased and generously donated to the NGV by major donor and NGV Foundation Board member Mrs Krystyna Campbell-Pretty in memory of Mr Harold Campbell-Pretty.

The 130 works in the highly-coveted collection represent more than thirty different fashion designers from 1800-2003 and has a transformative effect on the NGV’s Fashion and Textiles Collection. It includes a staggering 11 gowns by Christian Dior including a highly-prized couture dress from his first ever collection, as well as 12 exquisite works designed by Coco Chanel, including rare 1920s-era gowns, draped Grecian-style sheaths by Madame Grès and stunning examples from the father of haute couture Charles Frederick Worth.

Other pieces in The Dominique Sirop Collection include a feathered evening cape, embellished ball gowns and bias-cut silk sheaths by highly desirable and influential French couture designers, such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Paul Poiret, Jean Patou and Jeanne Paquin, the majority of which were designed between 1890 and 1960.

The fashion research archive donated as part of the acquisition includes original fashion designs and couture house workbooks by Jeanne Lanvin, fashion photography from Paris fashion houses including Balenciaga and rare fashion magazines including coveted early issues of Gazette du Bon Ton, Vogue and L’Officiel.

The donation of the extensive fashion research archive forms the basis of a new specialist fashion research library created for the NGV – the Campbell-Pretty Fashion Research Collection – supported by Mrs Krystyna Campbell-Pretty in memory of Mr Harold Campbell-Pretty.

Collector Dominique Sirop acquired the first piece, a 1945 Paquin black wool dress, when he was 14 years old with money borrowed from his grandmother. Paquin holds significance to him as his mother modelled there for 6 years from 1946 until 1952 before she married.

He then collected the majority of the works in both the collection and archive from auction houses and specialist dealers in the US, France and London between 1989 and 2014, whilst assistant designer to Hubert Givenchy at the House of Givenchy and at his own couture house.

The 130 works in The Dominique Sirop Collection, as well as rare designs, photographs and magazines from The Campbell-Pretty Fashion Research Collection will be exhibited in a FREE exhibition in early 2018 at NGV International.