Monday, May 6, 2019

The Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift Exhibition

Time is flying and I realised I have neglected my blog.  So I thought I would talk about an exhibition that is currently showing at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). 

Krystyna Campbell-Pretty supported the NGV back in 2015 to purchase a collection of amazing garments, collected by haute couturier Dominique Sirop,  from the 1890s through to the 1970s. The collection totalled of 130 pieces, designed by such famous designers, Worth, Chanel, McQueen, Balenciaga and Schiaparelli.  And even Laurent and Dior. 

Krystyna Campbell-Pretty helped the NGV with this acquisition of this collection, 
in the honour of her late husband, Harold Campbell-Pretty. 

When I visited this exhibition with a friend, we made the mistake of starting at the end of the exhibition. It turned out to be the correct decision, because we were seeing the garments in the chronically order, backwards.  So it felt like one was travelling back in time.  

The Exhibition is displayed amongst the permanent artefacts at the NGV.  It's an interesting way of displaying the garments, but it makes one aware of the other objects in the NGV collection. 

The exhibition begins in the 1890s.  I got such a thrill, seeing garments designed by the Worth clan. It was such a treat to see the details in these Worth garments up and close. 

Right:  Worth, Paris (couture house)
Jean-Philippe Worth (designer)
Day dress c1895

Felix, Paris (couture house)
Auguste Poussincau (designer)
Emile Poussincau (designer)
Dinner dress (1889)

Boue Socurs, Paris (couture house)
Madame Sylvie Montegut (designer)
Baroone Jeanne d'Etreillis (designer)
Romance, robe de style 1925 Autumn - Winter 1925 -26

Both garments
Worth, Paris (couture house)
Jean-Philippe Worth (designer)
Evening Dress c1912


Pierre Cardin, Paris (couture house)
Pierre Cardin (designer)
Dress 1969 spring-summer 1969

Alexander McQueen (designer)

Alexander McQueen (designer)

It is really worth visiting this amazing exhibition.  These photos are just a small selection of what to see.  I'm hoping to visit again, before it is packed away.

The Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift Exhibition
1st March - 14th July 2019
National Gallery of Victoria
180 St. Kilda Street
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Tickets: Free
Level 2

Monday, February 18, 2019

Book Review - 1920s Jazz Age Fashion & Photographs

1920's Jazz Age Fashion & PhotographsMartin Pel and Terence PepperUnicorn in association with Fashion and  Textile Museum, London 2016
ISBN 978 1 911604 22 8
$34.99 (Aust)

I must admit, my knowledge on 1920's fashion is quite limited.  I have been constantly exposed to 1920's fashion in the TV show's such as, 'Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries' or the later years in 'Downton Abbey'.  So you can understand why I was so excited to see this little gem of a book. 

1920's Jazz Age is initially the book that accompanied the exhibition 1920s Jazz Age Fashion and Photographs at London's Fashion Textiles Museum back in 2016 - 2017.  The publication covers the fashion, accessories and photography throughout the jazz age, 1919 to 1929. 

The first chapter gives the reader a general overview of the 1920's movement.  It was a time of freedom for women especially, able to take off their corsets, cut their hair short and be more free with self expression.  Music, fashion, politics, sexuality,  First World War brought so many changes to the 1920's.  

Fashion in the 1920's wasn't just flapper dressers, this is what modern people tend to just think of, due to Hollywood's interpretation of the 20's.  Fashion expanded with the demand of women par taking in more sport, driving automobiles and employment opportunities. 

Continuing on with the book, we have a chapter about James Abbe, Photographer of the Jazz Age. An overview of his climb in the photography industry is illustrated with beautiful sepia and black and white photos.

The photos of the popular The Dolly Sisters feature in the collection.  I was quite fascinated with these photos, because I had only seen The Dolly Sisters feature in the TV Series 'Selfridges'. 

  The Dolly Sisters portrayed in the TV Series

The next section is the Fashion Plates from the collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield. Here we can fest our eyes on these delicious garments and admire the embroidery and beading.  This is where I feel the reader can appreciate that the 20s wasn't just flapper dresses. 

1920s Jazz Age Fashion and Photography is a great beginners resource for fashion history buffs. The complete overview of the time period is presented in a well balanced way.  History, Politics, Fashion and Music all illustrated with the use of text, and photos, excellent resource. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

2018 Costume Overview July to December Part 2

Continuing on with my costume overview for 2018 from Part 1.


Our first costume event for the second half of the year, was a tour of The Block Arcade in Melbourne, off Collins Street.  It was a delightful tour, learning about the history and architecture of the arcade.  Of course, our group was certainly the centre of the public's attention.

I used Simplicity 2581 Pattern to make my jacket.  Quite a good pattern, I was able to sew the jacket within a week.  To match my skirt I made for Picnic at Hanging Rock event.

One thing I find amusing about the day, when you look at the group photo, one would think we all organised to be in similar colour palettes. Which is not the case, we didn't organise it.


So in October I was transported to the 1970's.  Rippon Lea Estate held it's annual costume exhibition, Super 1970's. In conjunction with the costume exhibition, events are held.  So a 1970's Disco it is. 

I found this fantastic fabric from Flashback Wallpaper & Fabrics, unfortunately they are not around anymore.  I was a little nervous working with this fabric, because I hadn't worked with fabric that had so much texture, almost like an embossed look to it. In the long run, I need not have worried, it worked well with my sewing machine. I decided to make a wrap around dress, so I could wear it again in the future. 


So our next event was organised by my friend Rozalia, an early Victorian Picnic, held at Werribee Mansion.  I had this major plan to cosplay as Queen Victoria from the TV Series. I was defeated, so my costume ended up changing.  I made my first bonnet out of buckram.  I was very proud of it, and I enjoyed making it.  Overall the outfit was satisfactory, but it's not my favourite.

Last costume event for the year was a tour of the Yan Yean Water Supply System to Melbourne.  Yes you read correctly, a tour of the water supply system for Melbourne.  Unusual, yes, but really interesting. The tour covered the history of Yan Yean Reservoir, Yan Yean Caretaker's Cottage, remains of Wallaby Creek Weir, Staff Quarters and Bear's Castle.

I must say it was a challenge, because I was in a corset all day, and we had to get in and out of the bus all day, and even walk 2 kms.  Overall a really interesting and wonderful day. 

Oh my outfit, I wore one of my old Edwardian Skirts, made a grey shirt and belt. Wore my little cape from previous costume event.  All worked quite well.

At Bear's Castle, Yan Yean Reservoir, Victoria. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2018 Costume Overview January to June Part 1

I have certainly neglected my costume blog this year,  I seem to be spending my time either making costumes, reading, or just living life.  So I will do an overview, but it will have to be separated.


February started with an event held up at Parks Victoria - Hanging Rock.  The theme was 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'. For those who may not be aware, a famous Australia novel takes place at Hanging Rock about a group of school girls who go missing,  Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

The book is set at the turn of the Century, 1900 on Valentines Day.  So dress code was late Victorian or Edwardian.  I chose to go Edwardian.

Even though this costume looks simple, there was to much hand sewing for my liking.  The lace on the shirt, which of course needed to be tighter and the black ribbon trimming on the skirt, is all hand sewn on.  It was worth it in the end, but my poor wrist complained in the end. 

The next costume I semi completed, was for a friends 40th birthday. So what I mean 'semi completed', for the last 12 months I have been making a costume based on a colour fashion plate. I had completed the lower part of the costume, but not the bodice.  I was having difficulty with the bodice.  So I made the crazy decision to make another bodice. 


The 4th Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic came around so quickly.  I decided to wear one of my old Regency Dresses.  When I first wore it back at the 1st picnic, I had no stays at that point.  This time I had stays, and it certainly improved the look of the outfit.  The fabric was made in Korea and I purchased it from Luccello in Melbourne, Australia.  Also to complete the outfit, I purchased reproduction 1700's spectacles from Townsends in the USA.   It was a successful picnic, looking forward to our 5th Annual Picnic in April 2019. 

I'm a volunteer for The National Trust of Australia.   One of my volunteer jobs was to help in the sewing department.  I contributed with others to sew large curtains, pillow covers, reproductions of a Victorian Cape and Bodice.  I also got to make a reproduction of a boys 1895 dress.  I was very fortunate to be able to analysis the original Victorian boys dress.  Measurements were taken to draft a pattern, and I used muslin.  The embroidery on the original dress, was the only element that wasn't reproduced. Now that the dress is completed, it is permanently up on display in the children's room at Rippon Lea.

The dress now on display. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Super 70s A Fashion Exhibition

Super 70s A Fashion Exhibition
27 July - 4 November

Recently I visited the latest fashion exhibition at The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Rippon Lea Estate in Elsternwick, Melbourne. This time it's the fabulous 1970's.  To some people they care to forget the 1970's, with it's burnt orange and mission brown, but there was more to the 1970's than these two colours.

The exhibition looks at the 1970's in Melbourne with the use of fashion, images and music.  The costume exhibition has items by Prue Acton, Hilary Floyd, House of Merivale, and so on. I was pleasantly surprised by some of these fashion gems.  So if you want to go down memory lane to the 1970's.

Check here for all the details for the Super 70's A Fashion Exhibition.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Year in Review: Costuming in 2017

Well another year has flown by so quickly.  I look back on 2017 and I can see that costumes I choose, make divisions in the year, like chapters in a book.

So how did 2017 pan out, compared to 2016?

The Edwardian Bathing Suit

This outfit was for a Victorian / Edwardian Beach day.  I loved these Edwardian bathers from the Gemeentemuseum The Haag.

I didn't have a pattern, check out here how I made them.

To be honest I wasn't very happy with this costume. My mistake was, I didn't do a fitting. The idea was there, but I didn't execute it to it's full potential.

 The Edwardian Suit

The Edwardian suit was originally constructed for a punting day at Royal Botanical Gardens here in Melbourne. 

Check here, how I made it. 

I was extremely happy with this costume. Comfortable to wear, the fabric was a delight to sew with and I felt this costume suited me well, (excuse the pun).

I think by this stage of the year, it finally clicked with me, to search for good quality fabric. Also do a fitting!!!!

I wore the suit again, when we visited the Dame Nellie Melba Estate in Coldstream, Victoria.  It was a real thrill when I saw someone in an old photo at the museum wearing a similar suit to what I was wearing. 

Photo Credit: Coombe Yarra Valley 

A Robe and a Stole

This costume was a commission.

My mother who is a funeral celebrant was conducting a funeral for a woman who follows the Wiccan faith.  The woman requested that my mother wear a purple robe and red stole at her funeral.

It meant a lot to me, that this would be suitable for funeral service. Even though it was a simple garment to make, I still felt a bit of pressure making it, due to thinking, would it be ok.

Overall happy with it.

The Georgian Ensemble

I made the Georgian ensemble of items for a Georgian / Regency High Tea, to be held at The Gables.

I was extremely happy with this outfit.  I was amazed with myself that I completed all the components on time.

Thankfully this costume was very comfortable to wear and easy to drive in!

To see how I made each component check out my posts here:-

Georgian Costume - Part 1

Georgian Costume - Part 2

Georgian Costume - Part 3

So 2018, so what will you bring me now?

Half way through a late Victorian Bustle outfit
Edwardian Dress for a Picnic at Hanging Rock event
Maybe start on my 2017 outfits off the list I made back in 2016 LOL
1920's Costume
1932 Costume
Regency Custom Order

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Making a Georgian Costume - Part 3 The Accessories

"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen".
      John Wooden

Continuing from Part's 1 and Part 2, we have the accessories.

Lover's Eye - The Jewellery

Lover's Eye also known as eye miniatures were all the rage in Georgian time. The jewellery was thought to be started by Prince of Wales later to be George IV.  He sent a token of his love to Maria Fitzherbert. This act was frowned upon by the court, so he hired a painter only to paint the eye, so there was anonymity and decorum.  

I really find Lover's Eye fascinating and creepy at the same time, chuckle. So of course I had to have my very own Lover's Eye for my Georgian outfit.

My first step was to find a frame, this was a harder task than I thought it would be. Luckily I was able to find a suitable piece at my local Op Shop. So next step, to make the jewellery look more Georgian was to glue some fake purls around the frame.  Lastly an 'eye'. I couldn't find a small enough image of my husband's eye, and he wears glasses. So I went the quick way about it, and just printed off an eye off the net.

Thus end result, my own version of a 'Lover's Eye'.

The Spectacles

I wear glasses, and I was tired of wearing modern day glasses with my costumes. So when I discovered one could purchase reproduction Georgian glasses, I had to do this.  

I found some spectacles which I liked the look of, I purchased them from an American company called Townsends .  So I decided to buy the 18th Century Reproduction glasses. 

I was VERY happy with these glasses,they are sturdy and fit to my head really well.  Now the lenses, this was the expensive part.  Lucky, my local optometrist could change the lenses to my prescription lenses. The optometrists loved the glasses and of course asked where I got them. Luckily I was able to get new lenses put into them. They said they were so small, it was like replacing lenses for a child's set of glasses. 

The Shoes

I purchased some second hand shoes from my local Op Shop, that had a heel that looked Georgian. I then proceeded to cover them with a dusty rose fabric. Then later I put some green trim on them (not seen in photo)

So that is it.  Another costume done and dusted.  I hope you enjoyed Parts 1, 2 and 3 of my Georgian costume journey.