Travel Feed

Melbourne - 200 years of Fashion Exhibition

This exhibition has thrown up a whole lot of research that I have to do. The pieces in the exhibition were lovely. They were beautifully displayed and there were parts of the exhibition, those that coincided with the time I was a Buyer, that brought back some great memories. I was instantly able to name the designers of each work in this era without even looking at the labels.   Unfortunately I don't have a lot of images as they are on my daughters camera.  So I will put up what I have here and post the others at a later date.

This is a knitted piece designed by Jenny Kee in the 1970's.  I was interested to see that the actual knitting was done by a Danish knitter. I often wondered who would have had to skills in Australia to do it here back then. 

IMG_4068 2

She even had leggings made which was very new.  This kind of colour work has come back into vogue today.


There were a number of old dresses from the 1800's.  It is sobering to think that Melbourne back then was one ot the richest cities in the world due to the amount of gold that had been found.

  Bodice 1

Bodice 2
I love the detailing on this bodice.  I suspect that the actual embroidery was done in France.  It looks like silk tambour work that is still done there.


When it came to the current designers represented my daughter was surprised that these were peoples who's clothes were in my wardrobe.  Some pieces by Katie Pye, that I hadn't worn, I have given to her.  I think she was going to use the material for something else but as they still have all the sales labels on them I could see her reconsidering.   Katie painted a lot of her abstract designs directly onto the fabric.  I have always liked her work.

Katie pye

The other designer based in Brisbane who I buy from is Eastern & Pearson. I have been following them before they were discovered by the French fashion scene.

AstTheir attention to detail really sets them apart.  Every garment is made from lovely fabrics and their attention to detail results in a beautifully finished  

East 2

East detail

What made me very uncomfortable about the exhibition was the inaccuracy of the information presented. I have come across this before when it comes to Fashion exhibits. I believe that Galleries and Museums have a responsibility to present ‘accurate’ information in their guides. They produce beautiful publications to accompany the exhibition and some times the information included just isn’t accurate. Yet these works go on to become a reference.

So this is the research that I have to undertake. It will include the years in which I was actively involved in the industry and will detail the work that I was personally involved in and the people I worked with. This shouldn’t be too difficult as most of the memorable fashion events made front page news in the Sydney Newspapers and was reported on in the local woman’s magazines. It was also written about in the trade journals. My boss at the time was a man named Phillip Jordon. He was an associate director of the company and his work predated those presented as “the first” in the exhibition by almost 20 years in some instances.  I was quite angry at first that he was given no recognition for his work. But who knew about it?   Most of those men intimately involved died in the AIDS epidemic and being single men didn’t have families to relate their stories.

So yet another quest is added to my list.


I got up early this morning to do some photography but the sun was still asleep. It is usually bright by this time at home. I am wondering if the sun will come up with a rush? No it kind of just slid into sight. It was grey and overcast and no good for photos anyway.

We went to visit a friend of my daughters who lives in an inner suburb of Melbourne. We negotiated the trams and arrived 10 minutes before the time we had set. She lives in an old house and has a productive vegetable garden. It is the end of summer and the garden is now on the point of going to seed, still it has a ramshackle beauty about it.

Wall 1


Leaf 1

Zweet pea

Wall 3

Wall 2

And then here is another balcony I can see from my window.  I think these flamingos would really like to be inside.



Melbourne 2

On the first day we headed out to get breakfast. Google Earth was consulted and there seemed to be a number of places to eat nearby. But we decided to wander and see where the whim took up. We passed through the main area

City heart

which had been yarn bombed.  When traveling in the tram I noticed another area that had been 'lace bombed'.

Yarn bomb

I have been to Melbourne numerous times in the past. Back in the ’70’s I would fly down or sometimes come by rail, on buying trips for the company I worked for. In those days Melbourne was where all the fashion manufacturers’ were based. It was always hectic running from one show room to the next. All those places seem to have been relocated. Then, when I was teaching I would come to Conferences where I would present papers I had written, that was stressful but it was also interesting to talk to other people in my field. So, I thought that I knew my way around the city, but, it must be about 8 or 9 years since I was last here and things have changed. The most noticeable being the increase of people on the street. There are lots more people. Some are tourists but most are residents.


I remembered the old alley ways that used to wriggle between the buildings and went in search of these. Before you could stroll through them at a leisurely pace. There were a few coffee shops and lots of graffetti.


Now they are a hum of activity. You have to line up to get into the good places. There has been an influx of Asian and Middle Eastern businesses and these just add to the colour of the place. This is reflected in the food with bread rolls and rice wrapped fillings on sale at the same establishment.

Food 1

Food 2

And what about all these soups.

Food 3

I love that these old apartment buildings are full of people again.


There were always a lot of arcades but again they were rather sedate.


Now they are alive with people and some of the most interesting shops. I love the Dr. Suess art gallery

Dr suess

and this tea room was very popular.


Just look at the cakes!

Tea 2

By the time we had finished lunch the noise was really getting to me so we headed for Fitzroy Gardens. I have an old photograph of my Mother and Father standing outside “Captain Cook’s (father’s) Cottage”. I think this must have been taken in the 1940’s when my father was still working for the airforce.

Mum & dad

There were a number of weddings taking place in the park and we walked to the cottage. On the way I noticed that most of the trees were collared.

  Collar 2

Last visit these trees were alive with possums, they were everywhere. Looks like the problem got worse and this is the solution .

I have been to the cottage before and love it’s simple charm.

Cpt 2

Cpt 1

It is the first time that Laura has been here and I saw the camera working flat out.

Cpt 3

By this time it was after 4pm and I had been walking since 8am. My feet and legs were telling me I had to take a rest, I BADLY needed to rest. We walked for a half hour back to the apartment, bought some food at the small shop next door and then I just fell into bed.
I’m not as young as I used to be.


Melbourne 1

On the way here we drove and picked up my daughter and her dog.  She was coming with me and Chester was going to the island.  We managed the traffic without too many delays and booked in at the airport with plenty of time to have dinner before the flight.  The first thing I noticed was the noise.  All I hear are birds, the wind and the waves on the island now there were loud speakers, people trying to be heard over the hub bub and all other kinds of background noise.


We had an uneventful flight down to Melbourne but as they have day light saving found that we had lost an hour during the flight.  This meant that we missed our shuttle bus because it had left an hour earlier.  So we got a taxi to our accommodation, which cost $70 !!  I went to pay with my credit card, which my husband has assured me had plenty of money on it, only to have it rejected. Not a good start.  Good thing I had got some cash.  The same thing happened at the hotel, credit card rejected.  Before we left Brisbane I had transferred some money onto my Debit card as a back up, just as well that I did.  It took until the next day and a number of frantic phone calls to my husband before he realised that he hadn't paid off the credit card but had been blissfully charging up things for the building extensions.  All the lights, all the tiles etc.  Thousands of dollars and he forgot!!!   As it was Friday when he made the transfers we will have to wait until today until the money arrives in the account. 

Anyway,  the accommodation is very good.  I took a one bedroom apartment on the edge of the CBD and it is spacious with great views over Parliament House and the city.  I was surprised at the number of apartments around us and also at the number of families that live right in the city.  It is some time since I have traveled out of Brisbane and lots of people live in the city there so I shouldn't have been surprised that there has been a move back to city living here.  Still, my eyes are draw to the balconies and windows that I can see.


When I got up I could see a cherry picker with some men inspecting the outside of Parliament House.  There were two workmen in their overalls and hard hats and another man who had lots of paper in his hands and NO hard hat.  A bureaucrat?


I do like sitting up here above the birds watching them dive into the canyons between the buildings and then come shooting up into the clear air.  It is so nice and quiet in the apartment, not so when you go out onto the balcony but quiet here.  This will be my refuge from all the people and noise that I intend to venture out into.

Tasmania - 4

So onto lunch.  We drove up the road to a cafe called "Petty Sessions", because this had been a court house in a past life.  Lovely big open fire to keep us warm, even thought the sun was shinning outside and a great menu.


I had been told they had a scallop pie that was pretty good so I ordered that.


This is what they look like when they come out of the oven. They are handmade with fresh local ingredients and are the most delicious pies packed full of the most delicious scallops in a mustard sauce.  I don't like mustard but these pies were so good there was nothing left.

I choose a local wine from the vineyard on the other side of the river from the cafe and that was beautiful.  What a surprise from a little cafe in the middle of nowhere.


The other surprise was when a yacht motored past..


towing a house with someone sitting on the back verandah!


We had wanted to take the scenic drive back around the coast but I did want to get to my two shops so we high tailed it up the highway to Wafu Works at Kingston Beach.  Now here is a treasure.  Antique Japanese fabrics, tools, papers etc plus a huge selection of books and modern fabrics all in a little unpretentious building.  I spent so much time there. The owner showed me some of her own collection.

The image on her home page is a applique of a wood cut but it isn't really an applique, nothing is sewn.

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The face, hands and feet are printed on fine silk and have then been cut out, mounted over a thicker card and padded.  The same process has been repeated for each of the pieces.  These have then been reassembled and stuck down onto a hand made thick paper.  These pieces all come from the Edo period 1615 - 1868.

The other thing I realised is that the chirimen crepe I have in my collection is not the same as the older chirimen.  Apparently the older type is bought up in Japan quickly especially for making dolls.  That explains a lot.  There is a lot to look at on her blog.

I was surprised at all the wood working and tools for making netsuke in the shop.  She said that a lot of the boat builders bought tools from her.

I purchased a selection of fabrics,  braid making supplies and some stencils.  I'm glad this shop isn't close by or I would have no money at all.

It is so nice to talk to someone with similar interests and the time just flew by.  We walked over the road to have a coffee in the cafe and found that we would have to sit outside all the seats inside were reserved. 


After talking to locals we heard a familiar story.  The developers from interstate had found Kingston Beach.  They had bought up property, raised the rents and the locals couldn't pay the increased rate.  The developers want them out so that they can knock the buildings down and start again.  I looked around me and saw a beautiful setting only 16 kilometres from Hobart.  This has happened up and down the coast of the mainland and now Tassie is the next target.


There isn't much here at the moment, just a close knit community and a beautiful beach.


The houses all sit around the ridges overlooking the beach.  I suppose that values will rise along with rents and that close knit community may be moved on.

After all the time I had spent in the shop I was worried that we wouldn't get to the next shop, 'A stitch in time.'

This is a small embroidery supplies shop that has two beautiful corgi dogs.  When you enter they roll on their backs to be scratched.  I don't think they are guard dogs.

Although the shop is small it is crammed packed with great things for embroiderers.  Threads, threads and more threads.  A great range of linens, books and patterns.  I bought threads by The Gentle Arts co but should have bought heaps more than I did I came home thinking I could buy them at my local store, but no.  So it looks as though they have gained an on-line customer.

We left the store at closing time and headed back to the B&B, a warm fire and pleasant company.  What a great day.

Tasmania - 3

The next day we set out to visit the boat builders down in the Huon Valley, via Mt. Wellington.  We left in the cool of the morning whilst the mists were still rising.


I decided that I had a good enough view from below the peak of the mountain, because this broken toe is still annoying me, and we headed off down a very twisting road into the Valley.  A beautiful drive, even if a bit scary when there were no guard rails and steep drops at the side of the road.  Old buildings studded the bush and the trees wrapped the whole place in their embrace.  Then we hit the highway again on the lower sections and it was back to reality.

We arrived at Franklin about 9:30am and the cold seeped into my bones.  Time to rug up even though the sun was up.  The boat building school was what my husband had wanted to see and I just tagged along but it turned out to be extremely interesting and there were lots of people to talk to and learn from.

The early settlers must have thought they had struck gold when they started using the wood of these trees.  Huon pine is the most amazing wood.  It is very dense, with the rings being less then 1mm for each years growth, beautiful to see and touch and very light and it has this amazing smell of wood oil through it. (The average age ot the trees is 1,000 years with others being 2,500 years +. ) The oil seals the wood and with its weight  and the fact that it doesn't rot, this makes it so good for building boats.  Thank goodness some one had the foresight to ban the cutting of any more trees so that this wasn't made extinct. 


The other wood I hadn't heard of was King Billy Pine.  This wood is almost as light as cork and is prized for making musical instruments.  There are a lot of other speciality timbers that are prized by woodworkers that originate in Tasmania.  The Federal Government had tired to have some of the forests that are listed as heritage areas by UNESCO rezoned for logging, they have been rejected thank goodness.  These trees are worth far more in the forests than they would be cut up and sold.

 There is something about people that sail boats.  A common link that overrides everything else.  Maybe it is the love of the sea and love of the boats that they sail on and those shared experiences.  This makes conversation easy and everyone is willing to share and learn from each other.  At the boat centre we met people from all over the world with this shared love.  There was a couple from Denmark who had sailed their ship, with their children, from the other side of the world.  It didn't look out of place.


There was a father and son from New Zealand who had come over to learn how to build a wooden boat.  The young man had never used tools before but was now quite accomplished.  They were putting the finishing touches to their dingy before shipping it back to N.Z.


We were accepted as part of the world wide sailing community and given open access to everything.


And all of this is in a beautiful, fairly isolated, river valley. Where the water is dyed with the tannin from the trees and reflects the sky like a mirror.


The old dog that belonged to one of the ship owners slept on the dock in the sun.

IMG_0182Water birds made amazing patterns in the water as they fished. The reflection of the clouds in the water made it look as though they were diving into the sky.


Bull rushes and tree ferns bordered the streams that fed into the river.



And out from the river bank wild black swans swam to see if we had anything to feed them.


I was told that the drake and his mate had just driven off the young they had raised.  I have never been this close to wild black swans before.


They are so majestic and beautiful.


And the colours in those feathers.


By this time it was the middle of the day.  So many experiences in such a short space of time had made me hungry and we headed back to the car to drive and find a place to eat.  We walked back through the small boats moored at the rivers edge,


And the old boats being restored in the building next to the school.


What a great morning.  We haven't even scratched the surface of this Valley.  It is somewere where we intend to return and really explore.


Tasmania - 2

The food, OMG, the food is to die for, especially the seafood.  I timed our visit to coincide with the winter solstice festival, and no I did not partake of the nude bathing to mark the occasion,  I wasn't even temped.  But I did partake of the feast.


We got down to the docks about 5pm, just about sunset, and the line wasn't too long.  Within the next 30 minutes the line extended to well over 300 metres and on the following nights it was over 500 metres by 5.30pm.  It cost $10 per person to get in and all around the building were fire pits and fire spouts flaming into the night .


Inside the cavonous building the red light and ceiling decorations hung over the diners, who even at this early hour fill all the seating in the middle of the hall.  The edges of the building were occupied by food and beverage stalls.


And what food and beverage.  Tasmania's clean green credentials mean that the water is pure and makes an incredible whisky.  The beers and ciders are delicious and the wines are just amazing.   All the sellers had lines of people buying their food.  The cheese makers were very popular I will have to look out to see who carries these provisions at home.





The pace was so frenetic inside we took our wine and a snack outside so that we could sit and listen to the performers who were in this space.  There were those of the wandering kind, who scared the children with horrible tails.


Then others just scattered around.


At one point a choir appeared, all dressed in dark cloaks which were lined in red.  They pulled their hoods low over their faced and walked sedately in pairs with their red lantern held between them.


They slowly made their way down to the 'ferris wheel of death' where they all climbed into the cages and sang as the wheel rotated.  (with the help of electonic microphones etc.) Quite spectacular.


There was a rolling program of performances and I really liked the performance on the  Theremin.  Dark and errie yet quite beautiful.


One thing that surprised me were the number of families with young children who were there.  I suspect they took advantage of coming in early to the festival.  Later in the night the nightclubs, that are across the road from the waterfront , were packed with young people, singing and dancing.  No children here.

By this time we were quite hungry but just couldn't face fighting our way through the crowds in the dinning hall.  So we left to go to a fish cafe we had seen further up the dock.  It also was packed but we managed to get a seat.  Outside the search lights were lighting up the skys and the lines of children and adults awaiting there chance to manipulate them was long.


We ordered Tasmanian wine, which was delicious, fish and chips for my husband, which he said was great.


And I had the chowder.  I came back numerous times to get this again.


Bt this time it was getting quite late and cold.  I was glad I had brought my puffer jacket.  As we had a big day planned for the morrow we headed home to our B&B and the warmth of the fire.


Tasmania -1

Well the trip was an eye opener.  It hs been a long time since I have travelled that far south and I had braced myself for the cold.  But, all the houses are set up with heating and it is only outside that it is really cold and then you just put on an extra layer of clothing..  Having said that, it was cold, below freezing at night, but the days were fine and the breeze wasn't coming from Antarctica.

Our accommodation was really good, a 5 minute drive into the city but far enough away to be quiet. Our hosts were wonderful with nothing too much trouble and a great breakfast each morning.


The house was set in pleasant grounds with pretty gardens, even in the middle of winter.  We will go back there again.


Our first stop was the Royal Botanical Gardens.  I had to go and see the vegetable garden that I look at every week on Gardening Australia and although there weren't very many flowers it was still beautiful.






This flower was beautiful but the leaves were vicious.


Movement is a bit difficult because of my broken toes so I kept to the paths and away from anything that was too steep.  The lilly pond was a lovely place to wander.



Our flight had been delayed so we settled for scones and tea in the cafe which was very pleasant.  Then out the gate to our hire car which my husband immediately put a ding in.  Good thing I had taken full insurance cover.