With close to 9,000 works the Fashion and Textiles Department actively acquires researches and exhibits historical and contemporary fashion and textiles. The earliest international works are Egyptian Coptic textiles dating from around the 6th century CE while later holdings include 16th century lace, 18th century dress, embroidery and textiles, as well as contemporary fashion from around the globe. The strength of the Department’s collection is fashionable dress; exhibitions span all aspects of historical and contemporary fashion. The Australian holdings include the work of 19th century dressmakers and tailors to 21st century retailers and designers alongside contemporary textile artists, milliners and shoemakers. The collection is Australia-wide but has a Melbourne-focus.
The Fashion and Textiles Collection is further supported by The Campbell-Pretty Fashion Research Collection, held in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Shaw Research Library, which includes designer workbooks and sketches, studio drawings, collection guides, client books, documentary and editorial photographs, fashion publications, embroidery samples and press clippings.
The department has a Fashion and Textiles Study Room where visitors can view works by prior appointment.