It’s been a big year – it started with a big sale as we moved out of Circa’s big room at Mitchell House and then it was onto a whirlwind UK tour that took in sixteen museums from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Scarborough, Oxford, London and Plymouth.
Nineteenth century fashion on display at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove museum.
Our visit to Scarborough was a personal desire to see my father’s birthplace. To see the place he grew up in. We were there in winter which is not the best time for a seaside sojourn, but better in a way because you see it as it really is, with the residents not the tourists. We stayed in a sweet little home right on the harbour. Sadly the castle was closed for the season.
Winter mode at London’s National Portrait Gallery, where I saw a star-studded exhibition of 100 years of Vogue magazine. My favourite Jacqmar silk scar from last year’s National Trust vintage clothing sale.
Liberty Fashion at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London. So beautiful, I wanted to touch all of the fabrics.
Tim in an Oxford cafe. We had trouble getting accommodation in Oxford and almost didn’t go but I love Cambridge so was determined: and we loved it of course. And our short visit comes back every time we watch “Endeavour” or “Lewis” on TV too. I wish I could go and study there one day.
Spending time away was a good opportunity to renovate our house, so we packed it all up and moved out so they could rip up the carpets and polish the floorboards. Under the bedroom carpet they found beautiful ’40s lino.
They remodelled the back end of the house and knocked down the back wall, adding french doors and a patio – the difference in light is amazing and I love that we can now sit outside undercover. So without extending and a bit of clever design, we’ve aadded a new big room and get better use out of the rest.
The rest of the house was fixed up and repainted – here’s one of the bedrooms (with original Deco light fitting). Mmm, dark floorboards.
One of my favourite additions was adding leadlight doors to our lounge room – I was fortunate to buy the house from Betty, the woman who built it in 1942. She had never lived in it, but rented it out the whole time. So the house was entirely original with Depression era kitchen and very basic bathroom but a series of tenants had stripped the period features. I’m enjoying the satisfaction of putting them back in.
That’s my boycat, Hector.
I’m looking forward to showing you more pics from our home when it’s finished, which should be soon. Just a few small touches to go, like door handles and putting artwork on the walls.
Meanwhile back in London, I did a course on fashion curating at the V&A. I still can’t believe that I got to do this, it was so interesting and fun: just to be backstage at this incredible institution was an eye opener.
The experience also gave me a head start at Deakin University, where I completed a graduate certificate on museum studies. In particular, it enabled me to write an analysis of the V&A’s conservation techniques and processes regarding their textile collection. Finding that information without hands on experience would have been impossible.
The biggest event of the year was the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival, and I presented four events. The main one was the 1950s fashion exhibition, through contributing over a hundred pieces, installation and deinstallation. My retail merchandising skills came in handy.
All of the garments had to be prepared for a six week open display which meant that many required some restoration – this Raoul Couture cocktail dress was the biggest project. When it came to me, this dress had a big chunk of fabric removed from the back of the skirt. Thankfully the design incorporated a large gathered silk panel over the centre back, falling to a bubble hem, so we unpicked it and regathered it to each side, to cover the missing panel. It meant that the original design was changed slightly but was an easier option than replacing the back panel (with the impossible task of finding matching sixty year old cotton velvet of the exact shade).
Jayne at work.
The opening of the festival and the exhibition was one of the highlights of the year – here I am with model and performer Minnie Monroe. Minnie wears Raoul Couture, I’m in my favourite Lilli Ann cashmere coat and Schiaparelli hat.
The second highlight of the festival was a big fashion parade at Rippon Lea with six models and four changes: a total of 24 ensembles from day wear, lingerie, cocktail, evening and ballgowns.
It was great fun accessorising everything with jewellery, hats for every outfit – even a clipboard and pen for “secretary” Steph as she walked out Joan Holloway style!
The event sold out quickly and was a great success. I really enjoyed it too: it was so much fun working with a great team of people from the models, MC Andrew McClelland, the dressers, hair and make up, everyone from Glen Eira and the National Trust. I’ve done a lot of fashion parades but this was the best I think, with all the elements coming together really well. It’s a hard one to top.
There were many other talks and presentations during the year too including talks on Marilyn Monroe’s body and image at Albury’s MAMA gallery, Monroe’s costumes as part of the Latrobe university’s “Exhibiting Culture” program which accompanied the Bendigo Art Gallery’s exhibition on Marilyn’s costumes, at libraries including Fitzroy and Montrose. The Needleworker’s Association, the Marilyn Monroe symposium at ACMI and a keynote presentation on couture sewing techniques for the Australian Sewing Guild. I really love my work.
Sandy just about to introduce me at the Sewing Guild’s Industry Day.
What a year! It’s been busy, and productive and involved a lot more packing and moving and things in boxes than I’d like. Moving is awful but change is invigorating and necessary. Just yesterday we moved Circa out of Mitchell House, after almost five wonderful years. I’ll miss it; it’s a beautiful building, great location and a wonderful, creative community.
My studies at Deakin garnerered a High Distinction average and I’m looking forward to more study next year. Whilst I continue my studies, Circa will be an online shop, perhaps with the occasional pop up sale – we’ll see. At the moment my priority is to focus on my education and get more balance into my life.
One last, little thing: we added someone to our family – a tuxedo kitten named Claudel. He’s fearless and full of love, like all good kittens.
He looks a little like the dancing kittens above, don’t you think?
I hope that your 2016 was amazing and you achieved some great things – and I wish you all the best for 2017 x