Be a part of history! Entries now open for Old Government House's very first Fashion Design competition.

Drawing inspiration from a historic item from the National Trust collection, design students are invited to create a garment or accessory of their own, for the chance to win a cash prize and the unique opportunity to be a part of the new major exhibition, Back to Black.

Wearing black is laden with cultural meaning, from suggesting chic elegance to mourning a loved one. Historically most often associated with mourning, black was also a special-occasion selection for formal wear, receiving visitors, or for going out on the town.

The fashion for black in the 1890s morphed into the little black dress from the 1920s flapper era to the 1950s New Look. Black has been an enduring staple of a woman’s fashionable wardrobe ever since.

Drawing from the National Trust’s dress collection, the objects on display in Back to Black span more than 100 years. They include well-known designers – both Australian and international – alongside examples made in the home or by unknown, skilled dressmakers.

Winning garments will be awarded a cash prize (First prize $500, two runner’s up $250 each).

Excitingly, winning entries will also be displayed alongside the inspiration garment in the Back to Black exhibition, on display from 24 May 2024 – 10 November 2024 at Old Government House – a significant UNESCO World Heritage-listed site visited by thousands of people each year.

Entries close at 3pm Sunday 12 May 2024.


Inspiration Garment

Short Cape (pictured below).

Late 19th Century. Silk, glass, metal.

Beaded short collar cape worked in jet bugle beads to black silk ribbed/serge. With gathered lace covering a stand-up collar edged with a looping braid. The lower part of cape is finished with a deep gathered band of black lace.  The inside is lined in fine black silk with a support ribbon to top neck with hook and eye closure.  The garment has a label: R Beardall, 232 Oxford St, Regent Circus, London.

The inspiration garment is on display at the TAFE Ultimo Campus Library until 12 May 2024.

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Terms of Service

Entry requirements

To enter the competition, you must be a Fashion Design or Costume student at a tertiary institution.

You must create a garment or accessory that is a creative interpretation of the historical garment in a contemporary piece of fashion.  There is no restriction to materials or type of garment submitted, however it must fit onto a standard size mannequin.

The garment must be delivered to Old Government House, Parramatta between Thursday 9 May and Sunday 12 May, 10am – 3pm.  Entries close at 3pm Sunday 12 May 2024.

The garment must be accompanied by the official entry form completed with all details as requested.  Please also attach a label to your garment with your name and the garment title.

The garment must be available for display as part of the Back to Black exhibition at Old Government House Parramatta from 24 May 2024 – 10 November 2024.

Garments not selected for a prize or display must be collected at an agreed time no later than 14 June 2024, after which time they will be disposed of.

The entries and their creators may be photographed for inclusion in promotion of the exhibition by the National Trust, including on social media, the National Trust website and in print.


1st Prize: $500

2 runner’s up prizes: $250 each

Winners will be announced via the National Trust NSW website and social media no later than 14 days after the competition closes. Prize payments will be made by Friday 28 June 2024.

Garments selected for a prize will be displayed at Old Government House alongside the inspiration garment as part of the Back to Black exhibition from 24 May 2024 – 10 November 2024.

Garments may be a collaboration between two or more creators, however if the garment is awarded a prize, the prize is per garment not per person.

Judges' decision

The judges will meet after the close of entry submissions to assess each entry and select the winners.

The National Trust (NSW) Judging Committee will be chaired by an external expert. The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the judging of the competition.

Submission portal

Terms of Service(Required)

I agree to the terms of this competition as listed above.