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Exhibition reveals fascinating stories behind the Powerhouse Museum's extraordinary fashion collection
When Janice met Hardy. Janice Wakely with Hardy Amies at Georges Department Store in Melbourne, 1958. Photo reproduced courtesy Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art.
SYDNEY.- What would you wear to meet Elvis, the President of the United States or to trek to the South Pole …and back? Drawing on the Powerhouse Museum’s extensive fashion and dress collection, Clothes Encounters is a new exhibition featuring ten stories exploring the clothing worn or created by a diverse range of Australians, from different eras and walks of life, in response to significant political, creative and social encounters in their lives.

Across four key themes – Political, Romantic, Creative and Intrepid – Clothes Encounters explores the significance of fashion and dress as a key part of cultural communication, an expression of individual and collective identity and a source of creativity, innovation and experimentation.

From the clothing worn by Gough and Margaret Whitlam to meet the Emperor of Japan in 1973, to the day and evening wear chosen by Jill Hickson to host the visit of Diana, the Princess of Wales in 1983, and the daring thigh high split dress worn by Sonia McMahon to meet the President of the United States in 1971.

Romantic encounters include the kangaroo fur micro mini and Merivale blouse ensemble Irene Combe wore to meet Elvis Presley in 1968, Mardi Gras outfits worn by Ron Muncaster and Jacques Streatmans, and an exquisite fine wool and silk wedding dress worn by Hannah Palser Prior on her marriage to Alfred Adlam in 1882.

Creative encounters includes the story of mid 20th century fashion designer Beril Jents and the designs she created for Sydney socialite Betty McInerney, the work of paper engineer Benja Harney for Australian design label Romance Was Born, and the meeting between model Janice Wakely and British designer Hardy Amies in 1959. Intrepid encounters explores the story of James ‘Cas’ Castrission and Justin ‘Jonesy’ Jones and the complex array of clothing worn on their record-breaking Antarctic expedition in 2012.

“The exhibition explores fashion and dress’s centrality to our lives and identity and its important role in cultural expression and communication. It reveals just some of the fascinating stories captured within the Museum’s extraordinary fashion and dress collection,” said the Museum’s Curator, Fashion and Dress, Glynis Jones.



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