Fashioned in Canberra

Tracey Lord's shop front.

Tracey Lord's shop front.

An exhibition of retail fashion dating back to the 1920s is opening tonight at Canberra Museum and Gallery.

“Fashioned Here” shows the work of fashion designers and private retailers, some from CMAG’s permanent collection, and some donated by current local designers.

“Fashion is a wonderful tool for a social historian,” says Dale Middleby, senior curator of Social History at CMAG. “It can symbolise an era and was driven by social events of the time, like in 1954 when the Queen came, everyone had to have a hat!
“Women tend to keep garments as a memento of particular events, so I think this exhibition will resonate with people.”

Labels such as Sylvia Parsons, Tracey Lord and Maggie Shepherd will be on display with selected loans from Calthorpes’ House and private collectors.

The earliest piece in the exhibition is a hat block from Stanley Taylor’s 1926 haberdashery and drapery in Kingston, one of the first retail shops in Canberra and which went under during the Depression, says Dale.

Some of the designers have achieved international success, says Dale, like Maggie Shepherd who had eight shops across Australia and was one of our most successful fashion exporters.

During the establishment phase of Canberra, enterprising individuals turned a profit from dressing the white-collar workers transferred from Melbourne in 1927, says Dale.

“The story of fashion in Canberra is still being told – it’s a continuing story,” says Dale. “The diplomatic and political profile of the community dictated the fashions here and it’s still a mainstay.”

“Fashioned Here” is on at CMAG from 3 September until 21 January.

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