Off the catwalk – fashion through the ages - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

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If Downton Abbey and Quant the movie are your idea of visual bliss, you’ll love the latest exhibition at Redland Museum.

“Fashion through the Ages”, devised by Textile Department head Jan Banks and her team of volunteers, is a display of more than 20 articles of women’s clothing, plus accessories, ranging from 1788 to the 1980s. Jan says that the concept of the exhibition grew out of the textile collection itself.

“Over the years we’ve accumulated a notable collection of donated garments, some with an impressive back story of their own,” says Jan – who has worked in textiles for 22 years. “Two of our earliest pieces are replicas, painstakingly created from the originals, but the rest of the collection are originals.”

The earliest gown is a recreation of a dress belonging to Esther Arndell, daughter of an emigrant English surgeon, who became the wife of explorer William Hovell. Another dress in the collection belonged to a descendent of one of the Whitman brothers, who finding themselves stranded in the Barcoo with a broken cart axle, became founders of Isisford in central west Queensland. A fur jacket that belonged to Lillie Maude (the wife of Brisbane’s first Lord Mayor, William Jolly) is a featured garment- but Jan’s favourite is perhaps a hand-beaded blue silk “flapper’s” dress, so delicate that it has to be displayed laid out flat, rather than on a model.

“Originally we didn’t have a designated textile area and items were displayed on models or stored throughout the Museum,” Jan recalls. “The late Dorothy Templeton BEM, a founding member of the Museum, had handwritten cards for every item, then in 2000 the whole collection was computerised and housed in a new upstairs textile room until 2013, when our current hall and workroom were built.”

Textile experts from the Queensland Museum had advised and trained Dorothy on the care and storage of textiles; Dorothy and the qualified curator in turn trained the volunteers. When Dorothy retired in 2009 she handed the baton to Jan, whose lifetime passion for textiles made her the automatic choice.

In the exhibition each decade is represented by at least one garment. The changes in the type and amount of fabrics used and the styles and the freedom they accorded the wearer are all indicators of prosperity, wartime austerity, depression economies, development of new fabrics and changing social attitudes. A highlight of the exhibition will be a talk and PowerPoint presentation on 23rd October given by members of the Textile Team; Jan Banks, Anne Tully, Nola McCullagh, Val Taylor, Robin Matfin and Susan Hoy.

For more information contact the Redland Museum on ; to book for the talk go to

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