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200 Years of Australian Fashion at the NGV - The Hats (and the Fashion!)

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We had been eagerly awaiting the opening of the 200 Years of Australian Fashion exhibition at the NGV, as this nation has really given some the world some innovative and often unconventional designers, many with a uniquely Australian viewpoint on fashion design. Bold prints, Australiana themes, tongue in cheek motifs, all unafraid and left of centre. Think Jenny Kee, Ken Done, Linda Jackson, Jenny Bannister and more recently Romance Was Born, Emma Mulholland and Di$count Universe who have been holding up this tradition. Australia has also had a surge of fashion designers representing on the International fashion scene of late with Dion Lee, Zimmerman, Maticevski, Sass & Bide and Ellery all gaining rave reviews overseas with modern and sophisticated silhouettes.  

But this country has always been punching above its weight with the quality of millinery it has on offer, no doubt spurred on by the huge importance of the Melbourne Cup to the nation, and the tradition of wearing a hat to it, so we were really excited to see that headwear was given pride of place in this wonderful exhibition. Contemporary Australian milliners such as Louise Macdonald, Ann Shoebridge, Phillip Rhodes, Richard Nylon, were all highlighted alongside some of country's traditional names such as Roland Bernade, William Beale and Thomas Harrison.

The whole exhibition was magical, taking you through the fashion world of colonial times (the women were tiny!), 1920s Art Deco salons, 1950s department stores, 1960s flower power displays, 80's discotheques and much Australiana. It was beautifully put together and definitely worth a look. 

Our only criticism is that the room of contemporary fashion from the last 10 years seemed a bit of an afterthought, it was dimly lit (maybe just the day we went), and a bit bland compared to the rest of the exhibition, which was a shame as we were really excited about the prospect of a Romance Was Born visual explosion! Oh well, maybe they just need a whole exhibition to themselves!     

We highly recommend you check the exhibition out, it's on at the NGV Ian Potter Centre on Federation Sq, Melbourne until 31st July 2016.

xx TEH xx

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