Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Darnell Collection grows with major fashion donation

This was the adventure I just had - 
to collect an important fashion collection recently gifted to The Darnell Collection. 
Designer skirt
A rare Victorian bustle skirt. Silk satin, synthetic dyed fuchsia colour
Whoever would have thought that custodianship of 
one of ten significant private fashion collections in the world 
would take me to wild, remote and pristine Bruny Island, off the east coast of Tasmania. 

Marion (who passed away last year) was a collector of great taste. 
Her preference for outlandishly extravagant Victorian garments, delicate 1920s clothes, 
and designer garments from the Fifties through the Eighties, 
including Mme Gres, Jacques Heim, Emanuel Ungaro and Pierre Cardin
along with accessories including crocodile handbags and fringed gloves from the 30s, 
fur stoles from the 50s, and diamant√©-decked mules from French designers in the 60s, 
created an intriguing and rare collection of fashion history.
Designer labels
Mme Gres, Guy Laroche, Emanuel Ungaro and other labels stacked on the bed waiting
to be packed into enormous suitcases

My journey to the Tasmanian collection included
a train, plane, rental car, ferry and then a one hour drive on the only road on the island - dirt -
with glimpses of azure blue seas, pine covered hills, white lighthouses, and no one else on the road!

I arrived at the house, perched high on a cliff overlooking one of the most beautiful bays on the island, and was practically blown into the entrance of the magnificent house, filled with antiques,
to discover what had been gifted to my collection.
Fashion coat
A beautiful mauve, emerald metallic thread and velvet 1920s evening coat
Marion's collection was stored in pristine condition, quite a feat living on an island, so everything I emptied from the drawers of mahogany chests on chests, wardrobes and chests of drawers 
were in immaculate order. 
With ABC Classic FM radio playing in the background, I packed up 5 enormous suitcases in rhythm to Bach and Mozart concertos. 

700 pieces (141.67 kilos) later I drove off, back down the two kms dirt driveway 
to the chained gate through which I drove before it was locked up again, 
and headed back to the ferry and then on to Hobart where I stayed the night 
before flying back to Sydney the next day. 

Now, not only have I added an extraordinary fashion element to The Darnell Collection, 
but along with this gift I can also add the evocative story of the setting in which I found myself, 
the adventure of getting there and back, and of course, most importantly, 
the story of Marion and her devoted husband Terry.

The Darnell Collection is a collection of fashion. 
BUT it is more than that. 

It is a collection that tells social history and women's journey's through fashion, 
and Marion's story is one of dedication, passion and pride. 

I feel very lucky to include this treasure with mine. 
This is why the Darnell Collection is unique in the world.
The view from my hotel room at Alonha, Tasmania

Drawers full of vintage clothing
Mahogany chest on chest filled with Marion's collection, beautifully stored in acid free tissue.
Vintage dress from 1920
Elaborate silk thread embroidery on a silk kimono from the 1920s
Olivia modelling this stunning 1920s house robe
Marion looking demure and young in the early 1940s
Another breathtaking Bruny Island view as I drove to the collection

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Vogue Australia Features The Darnell Collection

In her story, Night Shift, featuring The Darnell Collection, Alice Birrell, Fashion Editor, Vogue Australia, focused on the shift in what people wear when they dress up and how 'dressing-up' events have changed in the past 100 years.
The Darnell Collection

It's all about the flouncy flamenco-esque ruffles down the back of this dramatic dress 
by Oscar de la Renta. 

At the shoot, the models posed in the extraordinary bathroom of a Mid-Century Modern house in Clovelly, above the pristine sands of Clovelly Beach, in Sydney. 

I was interviewed in my role of a Fashion Anthropologist.
 I talked about the shift in types of gowns women choose to wear to special evenings 
as well as the huge variety of styles of garments from which we can choose today.

(The article, titled 'Night Shift', is in the December 2017 issue, page 207 - 209)

One Enchanted Evening (Affirm Press) is available from all good bookstores in Australia & New Zealand 
& from the following online booksellers: 
The Darnell Collection

My story about this dress is on page 56:
"This dazzling Oscar de la Renta evening dress is a glorious salute to Spain with its lush matador red colour, the carnation print of the silk taffeta and the glorious effusion of frills and ruffles.

Red was the legendary designer's favourite colour. He wore a red carnation in his buttonhole every day when he lived in Madrid as a tribute to the red carnations thrown 
into the bullfighting ring before each show.

A chance commission in 1950 to design a dress for the daughter of the US Ambassador to Spain wound up on the cover of Life Magazine, which led to an invitation to Madrid to apprentice for Cristobal Balenciaga. De la Renta's future as a fashion designer was secured.

This spectacular dress is worthy of being worn by Carmen Amaya, the greatest flamenco dancer of all time. Different styles of flamenco dancing convey different emotions, but they all have 'duende' - the genius to masterfully convey passion and emotion.

Without doubt, this dress conveys Oscar de la Renta's 'duende' - and his elegance and style. 

Australian Women's Weekly photo shoot for my new book, One Enchanted Evening

Only for very special reasons do I allow models to wear gowns in 
The Darnell Collection, but I felt a feature of my new book, 
One Enchanted Evening
in Australian Women's Weekly, was a wonderful opportunity 
to bring a selection of dresses to life. 

There are some dresses too valuable or fragile to allow to be worn, 
but there were plenty of others from the book that made choosing difficult. 
I also had to pick garments that suited the three models' individuality, 
who were also 6 foot tall. 

I always enjoying transforming modern women (and men) into another era. 
For this shoot, we were working with garments 
from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 2000s. 
All very different moods, dress silhouettes, hair and beauty styles, accessories. It was an exciting challenge. 

In the end, I went for dresses that either had stories personal to me 
or designer/decade histories I thought would highlight 
the diversity of stories (and fashion) in my book.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Age, Colour and Fabulousness Celebrated on the Gold Coast

As part of an expansive public programme to coincide with the major Conde Nast sourced fashion photography exhibition, 'Coming Into Fashion' at the Gold Coast City Art Gallery
a series of talks and events have been held at the Gallery precinct. 

Of particular interest was last weekend's The Fashion Forum, created by author, Alison Kubler. Fashion leaders and creatives were invited to speak in front of an audience 200 strong. 
Ari Seth Cohen, author of Advanced Style; Deputy Editor, Vogue Australia, Sophie Tedmanson; Brisbane based demi-couturier, Gail Sorronda; and I - custodian of The Darnell Collection.

Ari's respect for and commitment to Age and Style set the tone. Alison lead the four In Conversations with leading questions that engaged the speaker and the audience. 

Everyone dressed to the hilt and celebrated this unique and thought-provoking forum.
I flew home to the Blue Mountains recharged, empowered, and upbeat

Surrounded by the most fabulously dressed women on the Gold Coast.
'Ari's Harem'!
At the luxurious Palazzo Versace Hotel

Alison Kubler, Host and Presenter of The Fashion Forum and Tracy Cooper-Lavery, Director Gold Coast City Art Gallery,
and Ari Seth Cohen, author of Advanced Style and 

Wearing a gold lame full-length cape by Danica of Double Bay at The Versace Palace Hotel,
enjoying Afternoon Tea with Ari Seth Cohen

At The Fashion Forum at the Gold Coast City Art Gallery
with milliner, Meredith McMaster and Women in Racing CEO, Jennifer Bartel

Age has no boundaries!! Neither does dressing as an individual!
With Mary Baynard, Sara Jane Adams and Judy Brine
The most elegant multi-tasker in the world. Who says 'Pucci' and 'inflating tyres' don't go together? 
A line-up suitable to win 'Best Dressed' and for Afternoon Tea at the Palazzo Versace Hotel