Exhibition: Mannequin at Como House

What: MANNEQUIN: Fashion Modelling in the 1950s and 60s
When: 1 April – 3 July 2011, open 10.30am to 4pm daily.
Where: Como House, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave South Yarra.
Cost: $12, concession $9

UPDATE: This exhibition has now been extended until July 17th.

I can’t believe there was ever a time when beautiful fashions of the past weren’t being displayed in museums, but it was true – I’ve probably mentioned it before, but it was a major reason why I started collecting, historical fashions simply weren’t seen outside of books and second-hand clothing shops.

The first time I ever saw costumes exhibited was at the NGV in 1984. Back then, it seemed to be the only gallery in the country that had a permanent (albeit small) display. Through my studies and interest I soon discovered that many cultural institutions have costume collections but due to a perceived lack of public interest and funding, they were hidden away in the vaults.

The National Trust has one of the best collections around – I helped set up an exhibition of 19th century gowns at the Princess Theatre in 2003 and I was awed by the incredible beauty and quality contained in these exquisite thirty gowns.

It gives me great pleasure to see the National Trust displaying their beautiful collection and so on Thursday night I was delighted to attend the opening of their latest display at Como House. It was particularly nice to see photographs of fashions, set in the house and grounds of Como House itself in the ’50s and ’60s! Accompanied by the gown itself and if you were lucky, the original model might be standing nearby looking fabulous (Diane Masters, I’m sorry I was too shy to introduce myself but you’re an inspiration!).

From the website:
Told in their own words, Mannequin will showcase the careers of Melbourne’s top models through their personal memorabilia, images and couture by designers, such as Hall Ludlow.

The exhibition will delve into the vast archive of photographs, newspaper and magazine spreads and the fashion that inspired them, held in the private collections of well-known career models.

The National Trust is privileged to offer Melbourne’s most elegant heritage estate for this important and popular fashion exhibition program. Como House will be transformed into an immersive visitor experience: a catwalk, a photographer’s studio and a magazine.

The National Trust has done a wonderful job of compiling and displaying these couture gowns, any lover of fashion will enjoy it immensely. The programme includes workshops by the Lindy Charm School and a ’60s cafe set up by Madame Brussels serving afternoon tea. I’m also doing a series of talks: stay tuned for more information or if you’d like to see the programme – or find out more about the exhibition, please see the Como House website.

Here are some pics I took the other night – the lighting is suitably dim to preserve the fabrics and I have left the whole first floor (with some of the best gowns and photographs) for you to discover. A beacon of colour in comparison, you will see Tim and Candice below, with rose petal cocktail (!) and a beautiful car that brought one of the VIPs in.

As always, click on an image to see it in full, click again to see it come up in full size.


  1. That sounds absolutely fantastic! I’m defintiely going to try and get to that – thanks for sharing the news about it.

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