Costume Collection

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Costume Collection

The Costume Collection tells the fashion history of Melbourne and Victoria. The strengths of the collection are in the locally made and worn costumes, dating from 1850 -1970 and in the work of contemporary Victorian designers who have used the collection as inspiration for their designs. The collection provides insight into patterns of consumption, emigration, trade, and social change.

Dinner Dress, 1880

Dinner Dress
Maker Unknown
Date: 1880 ca.
Silk, cotton, crin (horsehair), glass, lace
Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria

Black and cream dovetail striped dinner dress with cream and black lace at neck, front and trimming the set in straight sleeves. Black glass faceted buttons at front. Full length skirt with central pleated cream silk panel and black ribbon detail. A crin or petticoat made from horsehair is attached to the interior skirt.

Bridal Corset, 1880

Bridal Corset ‘The Celebrated C.B. Bridal Corset’
Maker: l’toile C.B
Date: 1890
Silk, coutil, whalebone ?, lace, metal

Corset in silk satin with floss embroidery. Delicate flowers are embroidered over breast gussets. The corset has metal slot and stud fastening down the front of busk and is back lacing with metal eyelets. Silk floss embroidery features at top and bottom of boning channels on front of corset to prevent boning from penetrating the exterior silk. Interior is linked with coutil.

Spray of Artificial Flowers made from Feathers

Spray of Artificial Flowers
Unknown Maker
Date 1850 ca.
Feathers, wire, paper

This floral corsage is constructed from tinted, cut and wired feathers. The spray is a feat of virtuosity – taking the delicacy of the feather and transforming it into a representation of a rose, tulip, convolvulus and mimosa?
The corsage was much prized and when the owner immigrated to Melbourne in 1854 she brought these flowers with her.

Dancing Slippers

Dancing Slippers
England, 1850 ca.
Maker Leslie, Capel Street
Leather, cotton, ink

These soft leather dancing slippers date from the mid Victorian period. This style of shoe was in fashion from the 1820s to the 1860. Both slippers are the same - meaning they were not made to correspond with either foot. To differentiate them the makers often printed the words 'left' or 'right' inside the shoe.

1890 Wedding Dress converted from 1860 Ballgown

Wedding Dress (Bodice Detail)
Maker: Unknown
Date: 1896
Silk, lace, cotton, metal, whalebone, wool

This wedding dress was re-purposed from an 1866 wedding dress and was worn 30 years later in 1896. The circumference of the skirt, the decorative flounce, the centre closure and pleats of the bodice all reference the 1860s wedding dress. The 1890s are evident in the oversized gigot sleeves, the decorative bow treatment at the small of the back, and the pouch like bodice front.