200 Years of Australian Fashion

On 5 March NGV will launch the 200 Years of Australian Fashion exhibition, presenting more than 120 works from over ninety designers.

It celebrates Australia’s unique voice in the fashion industry, including modern sartorial victors like DI$COUNT UNIVER$EDion Lee, Ellery, Romance Was BornToni Maticevski, Akira and Richard Nylon.

Not only that, but 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, and a dress from Collette Dinnigan’s ground-breaking 1995 Paris runway show – she was the first Australian designer invited to show on-schedule at Paris Fashion Week.

Best known for their Australiana designs, Australian fashion icons Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee (pictured at top), will unveil an immersive replica of their famed 1980s Flamingo Park boutique, complete with pink flamingos, green Astroturf and white picket fences.

Linda Jackson: Models wear Flamingo Park knits, 1979

The golden era of Australia’s department stores will come alive too, with an immersive room replicating a 1950s shopping emporium, as well as a tribute to the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street. The glamour of 1950s mid-century style will be on show in a French style salon complete with a sumptuous display of floor-length  gowns and ornate chandeliers.

Dion Lee (Sydney): Arc coat dress, Utson collection. Photo by Yvonne Pettengell Bequest

A tribute to the vibrancy of the 1980s will incorporate a display of avant garde garments on a light-up dance floor…

Another highlight will be a newly commissioned work by Dion Lee that will demonstrate the designer’s forward-thinking approach and innovative design practice.

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.



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

– Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV.

Modern design will also be on show from the likes of MaterialByProductRomance Was Born, Di$count Universe, Pageant, PAM, Alpha60, Karla Spetic, Lui Hon and Strateas Carlucci.

The exhibition will also feature a catwalk celebration of vibrant works from the Fashion Design Council (FDC), which was established in 1983 to nurture independent Australian fashion design, with its best known proteges including Jenny Bannister, Sara Thorn and Kara Baker.



The NGV has collected fashion and textiles for more than 120 years and boasts an outstanding collection of incredible 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 in Australia, to date.

The exhibition forms part of the Cultural Program of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.

200 Years of Australian Fashion

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square | 5 March – 31 July 2016 | Exhibition fees apply

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