29
Jan
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Australian Fashion, Calendar, Exhibitions, Style icon

There’s a charming exhibition of a local style icon and fashion designer, currently on display in Ballarat. Here are some details from the website:

Fashion director, clothing designer, retailer, philanthropist, world traveller and local style icon, Jessica Simon was a key figure in Ballarat’s fashion history. She played a managerial role in her family’s business, Stone’s Drapery Store (in operation 1860-1965), which was widely considered the place in Ballarat for fashion purchases, in particular wedding gowns. She hosted a fashion program on local television station BTV6, and designed many of the garments for sale in the store.

Jessica was also a great philanthropist, hosting a wide range of charitable events in the region, and was actively involved in the establishment of the Gold Museum.


What:
Stone’s style: Jessica Simon, a life in fashion
When: 26th November – 1st March, 2015, 9.30am to 6pm.
Where: Gold Museum Ballarat, Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street Ballarat
Cost: see list here.
More information at the Gold Museum site.

I’ve had a number of frocks bearing the Stone’s label, mostly from the ’40s and they’ve always been excellent quality with a lot of hand-finishing. It’s nice to have an opportunity to learn more about the label.

There was a nice article in the Ballarat Courier about the exhibition and here are some images to give you an idea of what to expect.

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7
Jan
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Australian Fashion 1 Comment

We have such wonderful resources to find information these days but sometimes what you seek can be elusive.

I love to look up fashion labels, particular when I like the styles but often they use popular words and google can be unhelpful.

Yesterday Becky Lou and I photographed new stock and this style from “Gallivant Coats” caught my eye:

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1940s redingote – “hang on” is that what you’re thinking? “What’s a redingote?”

I’m so glad you asked. A redingote is a light flared coat secured at the waist and based on historical riding fashions and has appeared at many times in the past but is no longer a feature in our wardrobes. A pity, I really like it and it’s perfect for the sort of weather we get in Melbourne, like today, where it’s warm but we also got a thunderstorm.

I’ve got some redingote patterns on the webshop – they’re a very similar cut to the one above.

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Early ’40s redingote pattern on the left

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1943 Redingote pattern.

Here’s the label – isn’t it a darling name, “Gallivant Coats”? “For Smart Wear Everywhere”.

I’ve had a few stylish Gallivants from the ’40s and ’50s (and memory suggests one from the ’30s but I can’t be sure) but a search turned up nothing, perhaps because the word “gallivant” is used in other contexts too. Like actual gallivanting, not just frock-wearing.

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The Gallivant label – you can also see the pintucked neckline detail and the unlined interior with overlocked seams.

“What’s that?” I hear you ask “didn’t overlocking come in much later?” Overlocking (or serging as our American friends call it) has an old history too, much older than this coat. It’s a misunderstood technique in vintage, with some unenlightened souls claiming it’s only found in fashions from the last few decades but I’ll save that for another blog post.

Meanwhile, searching for more Gallivants, I found a few on ebay and etsy – here are some labels.

Gallivant label 1950sFrom a late ’50s nylon frock. Not sure I’d want to be called a “Little Woman”.

Gallivant label late 1970s
From a circa 1981 jacket.

The styles of the more recent fashions are unremarkable, so I suspect that like many fashion labels they got older with their clientele. The quality is middle of the road, but they’ve lasted and they have charm.

Based on the items found, it looks like they were around from the late ’40s, possibly earlier and were still going in the early ’80s. There is currently a “Gallivant Clothing” registered in NSW but they don’t seem to be related.

I did find this from the New York Post 1936 though: unlikely to be the same company but nice all the same:

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“Gallivant! What an exciting word! Not travel, not journey, just junketing about here and there. New places, strange places, adventure. All that is hinted at in this one word. You may not be going any further than Central Park but as long as you move about, you’re gallivanting, and for this now we have special fashions”.

if you know anything more about Gallivant fashions, please let me know and in the meantime, the Gallivant redingote is now available in the city salon for a lucky new wearer.


27
Nov
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, Designers, Exhibitions 2 Comments

One wonderful day I went – twice – to the National Gallery of Victoria to see the new exhibition on the work of Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Incredible. Amazing. Beautiful. There is so much that I’d like to say, but it’s best if his work speaks for itself. This is truly fashion as high art, couture quality, impeccable eye for detail. So kind and generous for Monsieur and the NGV to share it all with us.

All I can really say is “go and see it”. See it more than once, and take your time to admire all the little touches, the array of different textures, colours, shapes, the unlimited creativity. The strong and the delicate. The mind that sees beauty in unexpected and delightful places.

My favourite part? I’d be lying if I didn’t confess it was the moment when the great man himself swept past with his entourage, paused a moment, swept back and leaned in to say almost conspiratorially “….you have beautiful hair!”

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6
Oct
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, Calendar, Exhibitions

Another wonderful and exciting fashion exhibition is about to open and tonight I’m off to see a preview.

From the NGV’s site:
The unconventional and playfully irreverent designs of Jean Paul Gaultier will be celebrated in the first international exhibition dedicated to this groundbreaking French couturier.

The National Gallery of Victoria will be the only Australian venue for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which will feature more than 140 superbly crafted garments in addition to photographs, sketches, stage costumes, excerpts from runway shows, film, television, concerts and dance performances.

This spectacular overview of Gaultier’s oeuvre features the first dress created by the designer in 1971 to his latest haute couture and ready-to-wear collections, costumes worn by Kylie Minogue and Beyoncé and haute couture dresses worn by Nicole Kidman.

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What: The Fashion World of JP Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
When: 17th October 2014 to 18th February 2015, 10pm to 5pm daily (closed Tuesdays)
Where: National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne
Cost: see the NGV site for ticketing information.
More information: see the NGV site.

Now here are some nice pics, borrowed from the NGV’s site – as if you need a reminder that Monsieur Gaultier is one of the most talented and creative designers we have. Can’t wait to grab the catalogue! Opens Friday next week.

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All photos courtesy National Gallery of Victoria.


13
Sep
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Style icon 1 Comment

Over the last decade I’ve noticed a worrying trend – dressing down to travel.

Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t get to travel enough and it’s always a treat.

Whether it’s for work or pleasure, the way you dress affects how you feel and how you’re treated. I get that you’d like to feel comfortable, but there’s no reason why casual clothes have to be as ugly and unflattering as tracksuits or pyjamas, items which are best kept for private spaces, not public ones.

An article in Slate by J. Bryan Lowder called “Take a One-Way Trip From Tatty to Natty” has the following to say:

When we dress well for travel, we are not only making ourselves look good; we’re also signaling that we are invested in making this shared experience pleasant for everyone around us. Think of it as a kind of sartorial social contract: Honor it and your minor efforts make transit a more pleasing activity; break it, and reveal your misanthropic narcissism to, quite literally, the world. What else to call putting one’s own base comforts above the comfort of all?

Here’s some inspiration from Mad Men – now wouldn’t it brighten your day to arrive at the airport to be greeted with fellow travellers dressed so boldly? Sit me next to any of those people please.

Made Men, season seven

Back in the real world, let’s look at what Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg wore for a flight in 1968.

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Jane looks relaxed in a short, knit dress with over the knee socks and a long coat over the top. Gold hoop ear rings and simple and fresh hair and make up – her grooming is good, her style comfortable and yet smart, showing off her best feature (thighs to die for). I’m sure she has stylish low-heeled shoes, just out of frame.

Not to be outdone, Serge has a loose suit, open necked shirt and is that a cravat I see? Lace up oxford style brogues are vastly superior to sneakers and look infinitely better whilst not relinquishing much comfort.

They’re both dressed in quality clothes that are versatile as well as photogenic. Upon arrival, they could head straight to an art gallery or cocktail bar. This is an easy look for all of us with a little thought. This look, although from almost fifty years ago still looks pretty good don’t you think?

Similar techniques are favoured in these celebrity photos from the ’50s to the ’70s – comfortable but smart clothes, lowish heels, a jacket, coat or cardigan for warmth in air conditioned cabins and good grooming and accessories.

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Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda in 1965. No wonder he fancies her.

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Brigitte Bardot in 1966. Knits are perfect for travel – I’d have my camera out too if more travellers dressed like BB.

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Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1966. Luxury glamour – Liz could have anything under that fur coat, even a tracksuit but somehow I doubt it.

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Catherine Deneuve in 1961 – scarves are the ultimate in travel accessories, versatile and fold up in your bag.

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Faye Dunaway in 1967. Product placement, vintage style.

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Grace Kelly in 1950. The perfect coat for travelling, could double as a blanket on cold flights.

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Jackie Kennedy in 1966. Elegant white alaskine (silk and wool) coatdress with bracelet length sleeves.

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Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull in 1969. I love her faux-Victorian style button boots.

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Jerry Hall in 1979 in hand-knitted cardigan and high waisted jeans. A concord flight tag makes a good lux accessory on her overnight bag.

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Jean Shrimpton in 1966 – just beautiful. Surely someone will offer to carry her suitcase?

All photos by Getty - image source here, where you will find more glamour airport fashion.


10
Jun
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1960s, 1970s, Calendar

Opening this Friday, Hawkeye Vintage is offering unworn designer vintage fashion and the last of the famed Mary Lipshut collection of ’60s and ’80s – here you will find brand new vintage fashions from Missoni, Pucci and Courreges, with their original swing tags amongst many other fabulous labels.

Mary Lipshut amassed an incredible collection of European fashion and this once in a lifetime opportunity is not to be missed.

You can read Philip Boon’s lovely tribute to Mary here, including some of her amazing styles which hopefully will be available this weekend. Lady Melbourne also has written a fine blog post about her including many pics of her fashions – see here.

As always, be there early to snaffle the best buys.

What: Hawkeye and Mary Lipshut designer vintage fashion sale
When: 10am-4pm, Friday June 13th to Sunday June 15th.
Where: Como House, corner of Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra.
10% of all sales support the National Trust.

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Danielle from Hawkeye Vintage in Courreges – photo supplied by Alison Waters.

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21
May
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1970s, 1980s, Australian Fashion, fashion parade 1 Comment

So last night Tim and I went to see the Jenny Bannister fashion parade – and it was fantastic. Light, colour, movement, excitement, texture. Sexy and fun and inspiring. A lot of leather.

It’s filled me with wonder for her ’80s fashions which (if you know me) takes some doing because I remember the ’80s all too well and most of it wasn’t very interesting.

Jenny is different though, she’s the rock chick of Aus fashion.

Jenny Bannister Retrospective

Her models cut up the catwalk to an incredible soundtrack by DJ Viva L’Amour covering the years of the fashion and dressed devastatingly by Jenny herself – it was a taste of what lay ahead.

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The audience had dressed in Jenny Bannister too, and couldn’t have been more supportive – it was a night of applause, a standing ovation for all the wonderful designs and models, and special guests The Chantoozies.

A highlight was seeing the beaming Wendy Bannister, swishing her enormous cape down the catwalk as if she, not her famous sister was the star of the show. Her grin was infectious.

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Retrospectives can be bittersweet, as they focus on the past but Jenny is still so young and vibrant – her designs contain many different elements and they made me wish we could go and buy her latest range.

I’m sure she’s not finished with us, hopefully just having a break to concentrate on other projects like Fashion Torque. Creativity such as this can not be stifled and I would love to see a new Jenny Bannister range at some point: we need original ideas.

This event was organised by stylist Philip Boon as a fundraiser for Prahran Mission – well done Philip, Jenny and the enormous cast of people who brought it all to fruition. The night was a great success, and I hope you raised lots of money for a very worthy cause.

Here’s a snippet:


If you’re reading this on email, click here to view.

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Fashion Designer Kara Baker. It was a pleasure to meet you Kara.

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Tim and I, wearing more colour than usual in an homage to Jenny.

Now for some of Jenny’s fashions!

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17
May
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1970s, 1980s, Australian Fashion, Calendar, fashion parade 4 Comments

This Tuesday Philip Boon is hosting a retrospective of iconic Australian designer Jenny Bannister to raise funds for the Prahran Mission.

A fashion parade of over 60 of her incredible outfits from the ’70s-’90s, plus an art auction of works by internationally known artists inspired by Jenny’s illustrious career will be auctioned for a good cause. With a very special surprise musical performance by the Chantoozies! It’s sure to be a night to remember.

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Jenny’s fashion in Vogue magazine, source Sarah Kempson.

What: Philip Boon Presents: Jenny Bannister
When: 7pm Tuesday 20th May.
Where: Where: Deutscher & Hackett, 105 Commercial Road, South Yarra, VIC 3141
Cost: $95, all funds raised support Prahan Mission.
Book online tickets here or at the door.

I like this quote from Jenny about her ground-breaking designs:
“While the mainstream fashion companies slavishly copied what was made and worn in the northern hemisphere, I revolted and designed and made what I wanted to wear. It wasn’t namby pamby rubbish or granny crap. My clothes had to look arty: it’s hard-edge, hot, out-there, avant-garde, loud punk. Luckily, my peers wanted to wear it all!”

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Clarence and Chai and Jenny (1981), and one of her shell bikinis (1978)

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Jenny at home in a recent pic – photo by Roger Cummins, source and great article in the Age.

Good on you Jenny – we need more fashion revolutionaries. I’m looking forward to this event, it’s sure to be incredible. Tickets still available here.


1
Apr
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1970s, Australian Fashion, Vintage 101 8 Comments

I’m fascinated by sub-cultures: the ways that a group of people bond, and how they present themselves to the world.

The first sub-culture I became aware of was in 1976. Chocolate brown skivvies were all the rage but the shop wasn’t well lit and mum brought me home a black version. Everyone knew you couldn’t wear black: only Rockers wore black and I was sure to get beaten up for crossing the code.

In my sheltered Perth world there were only two sub-cultures: Mods and Rockers. They hated each other and the rest of us tried to keep out of the way of the carnage that resulted when they met. Think Quadrophenia. I didn’t know any Rockers of course, and never did so I can’t be sure it was true.

In 1979 I moved to Scarborough High School, close to Scarborough Beach where the legendary Snake Pit was home to Bodgies and Widgies. Or rather, it had been in the ’50s. In the ’70s it was all about Surfs and the Snake Pit was a smelly old cafe with pinball machines in the dark backroom. Soon it would be gone, demolished as the strip became upmarket and the beach ruined by a Gold Coast style tower.

I’ve never met a Bodgie or a Widgie but Surfs were so commonplace in Scarborough, I hesitate to call them a sub-culture but Puberty Blues (the original book) was the story of my early teens. Tradition dictated you’d lose your virginity in the back of a panel van in a beach car park. I was very unhappy: it wasn’t my scene. I couldn’t even manage a decent tan despite the daily beach visits. I read that book until the pages all fell out and then I sticky taped them back in.

The Sharpies passed me by – I thought they were a Melbourne only group until Catherine Deveny put up this clip from a Daddy Cool gig in ’75:


If you’re reading this via email, click here to see the clip.

What a dance! I love that this group had their own unique style. Australia generally follows the Northern hemisphere in most things but here was something uniquely our own. It’s an easy to learn dance with plenty of scope for different tempos or levels of enthusiasm. It can be both flirtatious for women and aggressive for men. It’s also rather comical. If you want to see more, just ask youtube for “Sharpie dancing”. There are some great examples.

The Sharpies started off in the ’60s, influenced by English Mods and created by post-War migrants who would bring out European fashions when they arrived in Australia. They had a taste for Italian style, especially in tailoring and knitwear, hence their name: Sharpie came from “sharp” dressers.

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Sharpies 1972 – from “Top Fellas” by Tadqh Taylor. Very Mod.

As fashions changed through the ’60s, so did they, and by the time they reach the era of their fame, the ’70s, there was a uniform: fine knit jumpers and cardigans with stripes plus high waisted tight jeans or pinstripe trousers. Sometimes very wide legged and long, covering their clomping big boots or shoes: platforms or clogs.

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Sharpie fashion. Photo source: “Skins n Sharps”

The girls (known as “Brushes”) wore jeans, denim mini skirts or pinafores with the highest chunky shoes they could: often with cork bases. Or “treads”, shoes with a sole made of old tyres.

The distinctive fashion item was the striped knitwear called the “Connie”, originally the “Conti” as they were made by Thornbury tailor Mr Conti. Here you could either choose one from the shelf or custom made to the colours and stripes of your choice. They didn’t come cheap – almost a week’s wages for a teenager – but they were very prized.

Punk Journey Sharpie clothing - Peter BRookes cropped

Photo source: Facebook

At Circa, I’m often asked for Connies but sadly, I’ve never seen one to buy. They seem to be kept (hopefully well protected) by their original owners, who still value them. Either that, or perhaps they were worn to shreds, or shrank a little too much in a too hot wash. If I do find one, it will go into the private collection for use in talks etc – the Sharpies are becoming an affectionate part of Australian social history.

The Sharpie style is very similar to the current fashions of the time, incorporating elements of Glam Rock and roller skating culture, but with a harder edge. The ’70s was a very body conscious decade, and they wore the clothes small and tight. The Connies were worn especially small and tight, resembling midriff tops at times, with three quarter length sleeves. The hairstyles were reminiscent of Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust, although when others grew their hair long the Sharpies kept it short.

Music was important to the Sharpies and back then when you couldn’t get band t-shirts, they’d get their favourite artist’s name made up in flocked velvet letters on a t-shirt. Bowie and Slade were favourites (soon to become B wie and Sl de when the letters peeled off in the wash). They loved Aussie rock with Lobby Lloyd and Billy Thorpe amongst their favourites.

The t-shirts also declared the name of their gang based on their suburb or even their street. They congregated in large groups, often at gigs or train stations and were very violent, often scrapping with rival gangs. Apparently even the police were scared of them.

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Photo source: “Skins n Sharps” Love the lumber jacket in the front: for when the Connie wasn’t warm enough.

Sharpies have been compared a lot with skinheads and there seems to have been a certain degree of overlap – the best site for Sharpie information is “Skins n Sharps” but for me, there was always a difference. Although I didn’t know any Sharpies, many of my friends dressed similarly and some of the girls even danced in that idiosyncratic way – I’ve never seen a man dance like that though. A pity.

Sharpies seemed to vanish in about ’79 just when punks, mods and skinheads were taking over – those were the groups I knew. The skins were very violent and we all knew to keep away from them in groups. I was once chased through the dark streets of North Perth by a skinhead with a knife after I looked at him the “wrong” way in 1984.

So if you do see any Connies, treat them tenderly and stash them away: you’re looking at a piece of Australian sub-culture history. Here’s some Connie style in this House of Merivale striped jumper:

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Striped woolen jumper by the House of Merivale, mid ’70s.

Original Connie short sleeved cardigan
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Photo source: “Skins n Sharps”

The same colours have been used used in this House of Merivale jumper. I love how the stripes only go around the front.

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Striped woolen jumper by the House of Merivale, mid ’70s.


29
Nov
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1960s, 1970s, Designers, Vintage 101 5 Comments

Today I’ve been looking into a new outfit, that’s just gone online – this “two piece dress” or top and skirt set by Melbourne designer Noeleen King.

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Noeleen was born in Ireland about 1933 and first learnt her trade under fashion designer Sybill Connolly. After migrating to Australia in the mid ’50s, she worked as a salegirl for five years before setting up her own label in Flinders Lane making “street dresses” with a small workroom and three machinists.

The following year she started making evening and cocktail wear, which sold better. True success came to her after five years, in 1965. With her Vidal Sassoon Eton crop hairstyle and lashings of mascara, her style was very young and hip. She was compared to Norma Tullo in importance for the era.

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Noeleen and models, Australian Women’s Weekly 1965.

Noeleen’s label primarily produced clothes she wanted to wear herself, and was described as “Medieval Mod”. Her customers were mostly teenagers and women in their early 20s – the largest size she stocked was SSW (Small, small woman, roughly equivalent to a modern size 8!). You can see the medieval influence in the outfit above, and sure enough, the size is “XXSSW” – equivalent to a modern 4 but don’t worry, we replaced the elastic in the tiny waist (it had deteriorated) now making it a size 8. It’s a very unusual style, with it’s double puffed, Renaissance style sleeves.

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Jean Shrimpton in Noeleen King, Australian Women’s Weekly 1966.

Mary Quant was a friend and fan of Noeleen’s designs, and authorised Noeleen to produce her designs in Australia, under licence. The Vintage Fashion Guild have a copy of the Mary Quant/Noeleen King label if you’d like to see it.

Noeleen’s skirts came in three lengths: day (just above the knee), cafe (mid calf) and evening (touching the instep) – another way of saying “mini, midi and maxi”. The one above must be “evening length”. The long maxi skirt with a wide ruffle to the hem is quite fashion forward – this style was influenced by the ’40s fashions and became very popular in the mid ’70s.

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Nicole de la Marge in printed cotton dress with tiered collar by Noeleen King, photo by Norman Eales, May 1965 Photo source here.

In 1965 Noeleen was shipping her designs to the US and the UK from her factory of 80 machinists in the basement of 45 Flinders Lane and warehouse at 23 Lincoln Square South, Carlton. She lived in a South Yarra maisonette with her husband Ron (also her production manager).

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The Australian Women’s Weekly 1965

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The Australian Women’s Weekly 1969

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Noeleen King label from the late 1960s.

Noeleen’s old factory in Flinders Lane is now a theatre and earlier this year a production was staged there about Noeleen’s life and label! I’m not sure when the label ceased, but I suspect it was the late ’70s – certainly, I can’t find any references to the company or fashions after then.

Thank you, Noeleen, I’ll be looking out for more of your beautiful fashions from the ’60s and ’70s.


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