A Victorian Silhouette: Gold Museum Style Showcase

Fashion exhibition A Victorian Silhouette opens at Sovereign Hill’s Gold Museum in Ballarat on 18 May, providing a glimpse into the fashion trends and roles of women in the Victorian era (1837-1901).

Running until 4 November, the exhibition draws on the Gold Museum’s incredible collection of original Victorian garments and accessories, shown alongside reproductions made by Sovereign Hill’s Costume Department to highlight the craftsmanship in recreating Victorian-era fashion.

“Female clothing in the Victorian era reflected the role and status of women in society,” says Gold Museum Curator, Snjez Cosic. “Wealthy and middle class women wore more decorative and elaborate clothing, while the outfits of their working counterparts were simpler. “

Elaborate costumes go hand in hand with Sovereign Hill’s interpretation of goldfields life in Victorian times, and this exhibition will provide visitors with an opportunity to understand how both fashion and women’s roles were defined by this particular era.

Highlights of the exhibition will include a chance to step inside the costume department’s workroom to discover how Sovereign Hill’s characters are brought to life.  Sovereign Hill’s costume department work tirelessly to achieve the 1850s look.  The team operates an on-site, made-to-measure workroom where historical costumes are researched, produced and repaired for nearly 2,000 costumed staff.

Filmed exclusively for the exhibition, and chosen as a winner in the Australian Category of the 2018 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Fashion Film Awards, an extended version of A Victorian Silhouette – The Film will allow visitors a peek behind the door of a Victorian boudoir, to discover the secrets of the 1850s silhouette.

Rare dress collections will also be on show, along with accessories from the Victorian period. Key objects to be displayed include the satin and raw-silk wedding dress, as worn by Amy Gibbs when she married Ernest Henry Lawson in 1882. Amy was the daughter of John Gibbs, the proprietor of the Charlie Napier Hotel. Sadly, Amy was only married for one year before delivering a stillborn son and passing away herself the following day on her wedding anniversary, aged 30.

One of the rarest items in the Gold Museum’s collection is a polished cotton and wool blend day dress as worn by Eliza Perrin, a hotel owner on the Ballarat goldfields.

An 1867 ballgown in green silk with cream ribbon, worn by 17-year-old Mary Fenton Whitelaw to a ball held to celebrate the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit, will also be on display.

A Victorian Silhouette runs at the Gold Museum, Ballarat, from 18 May – 4 November.

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