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New South Wales Forensic Photography Archive, Sydney Living Museums 


Here’s an event for 1920s fashion enthusiasts – many of you will be familiar collection of mugshots that inspired this panel discussion event – we’ve often used them for research in in street wear of the 1920s (and contemporary designers have drawn inspiration from them). This looks like a lot of fun for Sydneysiders and those who can make it to Sydney  I know Claudia’s a darling (with a perfect Dutch-Doll bob!).

From the promo blurb:

Scarlet lips, cloche hats, rising hemlines and luxurious mink coats – explore the glitz and glamour of 1920s fashion in our engaging Fashion of the Roaring Twenties talk.

Hear from a panel of fashion experts, including Hilary Davidson, academic and former fashion and decorative art curator at Museum of London, and Claudia Chan Shaw, Sydney-born creative and presenter of ABC’s Collectors, as they discuss the fashion of the 1920s as featured in the remarkable mugshots from the Underworld exhibition. Additional speakers to be announced.Ticket includes admission to the Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties exhibition.

Guests are welcome to view the exhibition an hour before or after the talk.
General: $20
Concession: $18
Members: $15

Find out more: slm.is/1920sfashion


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The Sydney Fair 17-20 May 2018

SydneyFair18This one goes out to all my Sydney friends (and those who can make it to Sydney) who want to know where to source vintage clothes in Australia.

The Sydney Fair is one of my favourite events – not only a gorgeous range of vintage fashion, including 1920s originals from some of our best dealers – but also a rich range of Art Deco art and interior design pieces. It’s a great opportunity to pick up key pieces for the collection and absolute “finds”, admire the best examples of design, and catch up with friends (opening night is always half-lost in catch up conversations with people who share your passion for vintage fashion, art and interior design).


Coutura Vintage stall – they will be at the Fair with the usual jaw-dropping array of clothing and accessories

I’ll be helping with the vintage fashion parades as compere, so come and say hallo! And remember to dress in vintage and enter the competition – it’s a lot of fun and a great atmosphere.




Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th May (opening 6.00pm Thursday):
The Fabulous Sixties – a curated couture exhibition showing the styles of the 60s from iconic designers – Dior, Emilio Pucci, Pierre Cardin, Jean Patou, Louis Feraud, Givenchy and Helen Rose a revered Hollywood Designer.

Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th May:
1.00pm On the catwalk
The 1960s with amazing pieces from all the major designers and featuring many of the looks of the era like the Space Age. The space race in the 60s inspired many of the designers to produce some amazing pieces. A few of the designers featured include Dior, Pucci, Cardin, Patou, Feraud, Sarni, Traina, Dresses

2.00pm On the catwalk
Best dressed in vintage – For the most authentic outfit of any era up to the 80s. On each day there will be a $500 gift voucher to spend with any exhibitor at the fair.

3.00pm on the catwalk
A curated selection of pieces by Christian Dior starting with his most iconic New Look in the 50s through to the 80s.


As always, exquisite Art Deco pieces from Arte Deco/Online Antiques 

This is a selling exhibition and any pieces on the catwalk or the exhibition are available for sale so walkaway with a unique piece to wear or collect.

Royal Hall Of Industries, Moore Park
1 Driver Avenue Moore Park,

Tickets available: www.thesydneyfair.com.au

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1920s Vintage at the Classic & Wooden Boat Festival


Setting sail…on Boomerang

My passion for 1920s vintage style is not exactly a secret among my museum colleagues, but it was still a very delightful surprise when our Events Coordinator proposed we catch up over coffee and discuss an idea proposed for our Classic & Wooden Boat Festival. Given the number of beautiful 1920s era vessels that were visiting the museum, such as the Hurrica V – not to mention the National Maritime Museum’s own Edwardian steam yacht Ena, which has appeared in an episode of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries – it was proposed that we gather together a group of 1920s “time travellers” to visit the site and invite our visitors to join us for the odd impromptu Charleston. In addition to two accomplished performers who have worked with the museum before, Paul and Charlotte, I was able to suggest Emma and Cally – popular members of the vintage community – and two young newcomers anxious to try on their first Mary-Janes and cloches. We were also joined by another vintage enthusiast and member of the museum community, Kasi, who came to us crowned with an era- appropriate dark-haired bob.


Emma on Ena

And that is how we came to spend three days of the CWBF – 13-15 April – weaving in and out of crowds of boating enthusiasts, introducing our visitors to 1920s slang (and discussing some differences between American and Australian colloquialisms), dancing the Charleston on the Performance Platform as a prelude to the History of Swimwear parade, and welcoming visitors from all over the world to the festival. We were invited on to the Sydney Heritage Fleet’s beautiful Boomerang, a 1903 Gentleman’s Schooner designed by naval architect Walter Reeks, who also designed Ena, were photographed on Hurrica and alongside 1920s yachts whose owners were keen to have shots of their vessels with era-appropriate clothed people, and explored Ena from stem to stern.


Ena – no doubt the venue for many a past party! Mary-Janes off to protect the decking.

The Charleston turned out to be a fun dance for the visitors to enjoy, and with performers such as Slide McBride and the Filthy Urchins playing music around the site – and always ready to jump into an era- appropriate tune when they saw us – we were able to entice many to join us and learn the basic steps. By the end of the weekend, on Sunday afternoon -we pretty much reached “peak Charleston” when the Filthy Urchins played a fast tempo version of “I will survive” to test the theory you can Charleston to anything. Even I had to admit I’d had a temporary surfeit of Charlestoning!
The Festival is a biannual event, and to give you an idea of the scale of it, this year there were over 100 including Halvorsens, yachts and skiffs, classic speedboats, steam launches, tug boats, whalers and Navy workboats from all around Australia, as well as tall ship James Craig, and the Young Endeavour.  There were lectures, workshops, demonstrations of traditional skills, plenty of children’s activities, lots of live music and plenty of food and market stalls. And the odd time traveler in 1920s vintage.


Some Charleston action on the Performance Platform


Welcoming visitors

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The Sydney Fair 2017

Writing about The Sydney Fair always presents a dilemma – with so many pieces showcased from Art Deco sculpture to 1920s beaded dresses, it’s hard to do justice to every facet of what’s on display. I could write reams on the vintage fashion alone, or on just how many wonderful celluloid dance purses I saw last night.


1920s beaded, mesh and celluloid purses and other accessories at Coutura Vintage

The venue has moved from the Byron Kennedy Hall a short distance away to the Hall of Industries (familiar from so many childhood Easter Shows), and the comparative intimacy and beautiful interior features of the smaller venue have given way to the vast space of the latter. It can be a bit cavernous in there, but with many new exhibitors I think it’s safe to say that the atmosphere of the fair filled it. Queues were way up the street when we arrived for the opening night, but once the doors opened there was no sense of being overcrowded, and while I do miss the aforementioned intimacy, it is nice to have plenty of space to view the stalls.


1920s blue velvet cape with beaded and sequin embellishment, Coutura Vintage


Gold lace and lamé 1920s dress at Audrey Scarlett vintage

The stalwarts of the fair, there since its first year, are back – Arte Deco with a grand display of Art Deco furniture, Virtanen Antiques with their extraordinary and sometimes quite monumental pieces going back deeper into the 19th century, and Deco Diva with a truly breathtaking display of Art Deco sculptural pieces, figurines, lamps and clocks. Prism Lighting, Demigod Antique Prints and so many others that have delighted us in years past. There are also newcomers to the fair, like the Coo-ee Art Gallery, Australia’s oldest Aboriginal exhibiting art gallery.


Art Deco sculpture, Arte Deco
The vintage fashion front is one of the greatest draws for me, and this year I was delighted to see the offering of regulars like Arte Deco and Coutura Vintage expanded to new stallholders like Audrey Scarlett and The Vintage Drawer. It was my introduction to Audrey Scarlett, and after falling in love with some of their 1920s pieces I finally had to exclaim “why have I not come across you before?” Answer: they’re Melbourne based!


1910s-1920s bandeau – brass with faux gemstones, at Coutura Vintage.

I’m back tomorrow where I’ll be helping out with the fashion parade and vintage clothing competition (times below), and opening night was largely spent socialising and catching up with friends – I feel I’ve hardly had a chance to dive into the fair’s offerings and have just skirted the surface, but I did walk away with one piece…an exquisite 1920s black beaded dress with beaded floral motifs from Coutura Vintage.

25 May – 28 May
25 May at 18:00 to 28 May at 17:00
1 Driver Avenue, Moore Park 2021
Tickets available www.thesydneyfair.com.au

Fashion Parades of Evening Dresses from the Couture Exhibition
Saturday 27 May at 1.00pm and 3.00pm and at 2.00pm a Best Dressed Event

Find out more and see some fabulous previews at The Sydney Fair FB page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSydneyFair/

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Update on Neal Barr’s “Threads of Time” and the Accompanying Documentary


Last year I wrote about Threads of Time, Neal Barr’s upcoming two volume set of photographs that will bring to life the fashion of the 1920s, and the accompanying documentary. Exquisitely styled with a keen eye for the design ethos of the period, beautifully photographed on mannequins that evoke the period in every respect from hair styles to body language, the project has excited a lot of interest among fashion historians and 1920s aficionados (and just those who like beautiful photography).

Ethan Boehme, whose film will document the creation of this masterwork (and the story of one man’s passionate love for the fashion of the 1920s and desire to explore and recreate), has brought us an update on the project.

At this stage it is anticipated that the two volume set will go to print in mid-November, and will be accompanied by a text-based book by Neil Barr. Ethan and his team are pushing ahead to complete the documentary for release at the same time as the books, with the indiegogo campaign having enabled them to add important material to the film, so we can expect a lavish visual treat that will explore the story behind these remarkable, beautiful images and the man who made them possible.

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Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association Fair 2016


Lithograph on Tinted paper laid down on board, Exposition Universelle, 1900  Douglas Stewart Fine Books, AAADA Fair

One of my favourite local events for the hunt of vintage and antique clothing events is soon coming up – the Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association Fair. “Antiques and Art” might conjure up a vision limited to furniture, jewellery, and exquisite works by old masters (not to mention a price range out of reach for many vintage clothing wearers and collectors), but the sheer diversity of stalls and objects for display and sale means that there’s plenty of overlap with our interests. And while the rare and exceptional quality pieces will always command high prices, there are still bargains to be had.


Lucite handled bags, Online Antiques

Over the years I’ve purchased pieces as diverse as 1930s enamel bags, Art Deco lamps, celluloid and pressed glass necklaces, a kokoshnik style 1920s bandeau, and more than one stunning 1920s gown. Many of the purchases are made at Online Antiques/Arte Deco and Coutura Vintage, but there are many other stalls to explore and cabinets full of a rich array of goodies to search through.Victorian watercolours, 18th century miniatures, 20th century kitsch, quirky taxidermy, Chinese textiles – so many beautiful, fascinating things displayed in an accessible venue. I do a lot of my purchasing online, but never miss a chance to return to the AA&AD Fair as a highlight of the vintage calendar in Sydney.


Fun at the last AAADA Fair – trying on a green raffia 1920s wig, Coutura Vintage

We’ll be there on opening night, so do say hallo if you’re attending!

7-11 September | Royal Randwick | @atc_races | #aaada

Wednesday 7 September (Gala Preview)
6pm – 9pm

Thursday 8 September
10am – 6pm

Friday 9 September
10am – 6pm

Saturday 10 September
10am – 6pm

Sunday 11 September
10am – 5pm


Coutura Vintage Display AAADA 2015

Gala Preview (7 September)

Tickets – $30
(A preview of the fair that includes champagne on arrival and canapés)

General Admission (8-11 September):
Adult – $20
Concession – $15
Children under 16 free

Tickets available online or at the door  |  Pass outs available



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Randwick Town Hall – Rock Around Randwick Vintage Fair

This was the Sixth Rock Around Randwick vintage fair, but its been a few years since I’ve attended and I was curious to see how it was running. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the Sydney vintage scene has undergone a slump recently – it didn’t quite tank altogether, but vintage bricks and mortar shops and fairs became much more scarce, prompting us to appreciate even more those that remained.

My collecting interests lie very heavily in the pre-WWII era, and are particularly centred around the 1920s and 30s (although I can never resist a lovely Edwardian hat or a richly beaded Victorian mantelet). These pieces can often be rather thin on the ground, and are really starting to edge more into “Antique” rather than “Vintage” as they approach their 100th anniversary. Many can’t be considered wearable vintage, and that – coupled with their increasing scarcity – means that I don’t really expect to find them in a substantial amount at vintage and retro fairs….but I live in hope. You can still find lovely celluloid handled bags or Czech glass jewellery in unexpected places, and a velvet 1930s coat is not all that unusual to come across amidst the racks 60s-80s pieces.


Hats at Over the Top Vintage

Although not a huge event, the Randwick Fair filled out the town hall with dealers and showed a very good cross section of antique, vintage and retro pieces. The event is free entry, and from the time we arrived at 10.00 am opening there was a good sized crowd. There were plenty of funky and fun pieces from more recent decades in Pucci type prints or OTT 1970s glitz.


1920s floral evening coat

Even more pleasing to me was the presence of older pieces as well, going back into the Victorian era. Keith and Fiona Baverstock are well known for their extensive collection of Antique and Vintage stock, and their business, Seams Old, is a staple of the Australian vintage scene (in fact, I purchased my first 1920s piece from them many years ago at an antique fair…I was looking for Edwardian clothing, but was seduced by the rich, vibrant colour and texture of a 1920s silk velvet jacket). Keith was on hand to discuss all their stock and was happy to bring items out of the showcases and from where some of the more extravagant pieces were hanging on the walls, and we were very pleased to pick up a lovely 1920s floral cape lined with lamé from their stall. The cape is covered with a fine spiderweb of gold metallic thread – a very unusual treatment. We also bought a large beaded 1920s bag with a faux tortoiseshell celluloid handle from Seams Old…its generous size made it a practical piece for those vintage events where you’re carrying more than your powder and a sovereign! Finally, we bought a German made Art Deco manicure set – all original pieces in their original box.


Glennis of Over the Top Vintage

Other stallholders also had some wonderful Deco era pieces. Glennis of Over the Top Vintage is another familiar face to Sydney vintage lovers, and after a bit of a brief hiatus she has returned to selling with a great variety of pieces. Her hats in particular are a joy to behold – if I hadn’t already done my dash with the cape, I would have very happily purchased a beautiful 1910s toque in Autumnal, coppery colours with a velvet flower trim.

Elsewhere, we found a 1930s purse with soutache embroidery – a little worn around the edges, but for an excellent price. I was also completely bemused by a snake bracelet set with rhinestones – the style itself is very familiar from the celluloid or carved horn bracelets in the same design, but it is either carved wood or resin. I’d never seen one quite like it, and – acting on the principle of collecting that prompts me to buy unusual pieces that pique my curiosity – I bought it. More research needed!


1920s beaded bag with faux tortoiseshell celluloid handle

On the way out we looked at the display of wedding gowns through the ages. One of the most delightful things about it was seeing a grandmother explaining the styles to her granddaughter, and looking through all the photos on the table to see if they could identify which gown belonged to each era. Seeing that sort of audience engagement is always a pleasure when you work in museums, whether it be for a huge blockbuster exhibition or a small display in a town hall.

A very successful day from our perspective and, I hope, from that of the stallholders – it’s good to see the Sydney vintage scene alive and humming.


Wedding Dress display