Athol SHMITH<br/>
<em>No title (Fashion illustration. Model Ann Chapman)</em> (c. 1961) <!-- (recto) --><br />

gelatin silver photograph<br />
49.2 x 38.8 cm<br />
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne<br />
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of The Ian Potter Foundation, Governor, 1989<br />
PH66-1989<br />
© Estate of Athol Shmith
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No title (Fashion illustration. Model Ann Chapman) (c. 1961)
Media Release • 3 Dec 15

200 Years of Australian Fashion

The first major survey of Australian fashion will open at the National Gallery of Victoria in March 2016.  The exhibition will present more than 120 works from over 90 designers and celebrate Australia’s unique voice in the fashion industry.

Alongside works by contemporary designers, such as Akira, Richard Nylon, Ellery and Toni Maticevski, the exhibition will showcase standout designs from the last 200 years including Australia’s earliest known surviving dress (c1805), a glamorous 1950s blue feathered ball gown by Collins Street salon La Petite (pictured), 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.

‘Australian fashion design has been informed by its geography, resources, migration and its response to international trends,’ said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV. ‘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.’

A highlight is a newly commissioned work by Dion Lee that will signpost the future of Australian fashion and demonstrate the designer’s forward-thinking approach and innovative design practice. The exhibition will also feature a show-stopping catwalk of garments that celebrate the vibrant output of the Fashion Design Council (FDC), which was established in 1983 to nurture independent Australian fashion design.  Well-known designers associated with this movement include Jenny Bannister, Sara Thorn and Kara Baker.

Iconic and milestone moments of Australian fashion history will be displayed from early dressmakers and tailors who adapted European fashions to the Australian lifestyle, class system and climate during the nineteenth century. The exhibition will also focus on the output of the nation’s first department stores, such as Buckley & Nunn, David Jones, Farmer and Co. and Bright & Hitchcock’s, which were critical in disseminating fashionable dress during this time.

The colour and experimentation of the 60’s will be celebrated through a focused display featuring mini-dresses, designed by Prue Acton, who was the first female Australian designer to show in New York. Remarkable knit wear from Jenny Kee’s Flamingo Park boutique of the 1970s will have a dedicated display, illuminating the designer’s landmark range of Australiana-inspired garments.

The richness of contemporary fashion will also be on show in the work of Australian designers MaterialByProduct, Romance Was Born, Di$count Universe, Pageant, PAM, Alpha60, Karla Spetic, Lui Hon and Strateas Carlucci.

The NGV has collected fashion and textiles for more than 120 years and boasts an outstanding collection of incredible breadth, quality and craftsmanship. Since the 1970s the NGV has organised close to 50 fashion and textile exhibitions, with 200 Years of Australian Fashion the largest survey of Australian fashion to date.

The NGV will present 200 Years of Australian Fashion as part of the Cultural Program of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, which celebrates its 20th Festival in 2016.

‘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.


Symposium: What is Australian Fashion?
Sat 5 March

Beyond the clichés, what is Australian fashion? If such an identity exists, what separates Australian designers and dress from the rest of the world? Hear from leading Australian fashion designers, curators and commentators as they share current issues and developments in the market place and global contexts.

Cost ticketed. See for details and booking
Venue Theatre, NGV Australia

Design Talks
Sat 5 & Sun 6 March

Celebrate the opening weekend of 200 years of Australian Fashion with a range of talks and informal conversations providing insights into Australian fashion history and design today.

Cost exhibition entry. See for details and booking
Venue exhibition space, NGV Australia