The Anne Schofield Collection of costumes and accessories was purchased in 1974 with the assistance of a special grant from the Government of Victoria. The collection contains approximately one thousand pieces which date from 1760 to 1949. It includes display forms which have been made to fit the costumes as well as a substantial and valuable library of bound volumes of fashion magazines, published from 1809 to 1904, early Australian periodicals and weekly fashion plates.
Mrs Anne Schofield of Woollahra, Sydney, began the collection eleven years ago. Unable to find pre-1840 costumes in Australia, she travelled extensively in England to add such costumes to the collection, and indeed, most of those included were acquired overseas.
The collection is predominantly of costumes, but there is a small selection of men’s hats, capes and waistcoats. The most spectacular and important part of the collection is comprised of some two hundred gowns, dresses and cloaks of superb quality which are supplemented by capes, shawls, hats, bonnets, gloves, muffs, fans, parasols, bags, stockings, shoes, jewellery, powder-and-cigarette boxes, ribbons, feathers, night dresses, boudoir caps, camisoles, combinations, drawers, petticoats, corsets, bustles and crinolines. Also important is a section devoted to rare children’s costumes, dresses, coats, caps, hats, shoes, babies’ robes and bonnets. The material in this section dates from 1845 to 1930. The earliest dress in the collection is an open robe of Spitalfields silk, of 1765, of sage green brocade with a pattern of meandering garlands of flowers in pink and ivory.
It is impossible in this note to do more than mention a few costumes of exceptional interest. There is, for example, a carriage dress, circa 1855, of coffee brown Lyon silk with two flounces printed a disposition of ivory lace garland decoration, pagoda sleeves trimmed with rosettes, glass buttons and lace engageantes (fig. 1). Among other dresses of unusual interest are an evening dress by Redfern, circa 1825, of heavy cream satin with sleeves decorated with jet, a dress of white net trimmed with lace insertions and white braid by Paquin, circa 1909, and two fancy dress costumes, one, a French Revolutionary dress complete with phrygian cap and wig dated 1885 and ‘Scrap Album’, a dress of white net appliqued with chromolithographic scraps of butterflies, flowers and figures. This last costume, dated 1893, is supplemented by shoes and a fan decorated in the same style. An interesting part of the collection is the large group of printed calico dresses and white muslin dresses. There are some twenty of these which may be dated between 1809 and 1832.
The 1920s and 1930s are very well represented with about forty fine examples of evening and day dresses, cloaks and coats. There is, for example, an evening dress of blue and red floral printed georgette with petalled skirt, label Modele Molyneux, 60 Grosvenor Square, London, circa 1927. An evening dress and matching coat of white muslin shading to the hem, beaded entirely in white, is believed to have been designed by Chanel, circa 1927.
Caps, bonnets and hats are always difficult items to find and they form an important part of any costume collection. The Schofield Collection has many fine examples dating from 1830 to 1949 and included are two rare wedding bonnets with labels, circa 1850, both of which came from Maison Lemonnier, Paris. Many of the costumes and accessories are labelled with makers’ names, for example, Russell and Allen, Old Bond St.; Elise, Regent St.; Jays, Regent St.; Marshall and Snelgrove, Oxford St.; Molyneux, Grosvenor St., London; Jessop, Nottingham; Beer, Paris; James Marshall, Adelaide; Miss Knee, Sydney; E. Webb & Co., Bathurst, New South Wales; Anthony Hordern and Son, Sydney.
From the 24th March to 4th May, 1975, more than three hundred and seventy costumes and accessories from the Schofield Collection were displayed in the temporary exhibitions gallery of the National Gallery of Victoria. A comprehensive catalogue accompanied the exhibition.