Kashmiri Victorian Paisley Shawl, 1860s

Paisley is a centuries' old status symbol

For hundreds of years, paisley shawls have been worn as high fashion statements and as status symbols. The history of paisley began in Kashmir, a country bordered by Pakistan, China and India, in the 1500s. 

The paisley motif has morphed through time, but the 'Paisley Buta' design, the pine cone shape we most commonly associate with paisley, came into being around 1815. The differing styles of the paisley motif helps us date the shawls as well as the actual shape of the shawl. Long rectangular shawls, such as the one in The Darnell Collection that measures 1.5 x 3.25 meters, were worn from the early 1850s to the 1870s. The shawl would have been folded in two and worn wrapped around the shoulders and secured with a brooch, while the rest draped over the skirt to show off its pattern and colours to full effect. A shawl took the place of a coat, which would have been awkward to fit over an enormous hoop or crinoline skirt. From the late 1870s to the early 1890s, a square shawl was worn instead as it only had to cover the shoulders and a narrow, bustle skirt. By the late 1800s, mantles, capes, coats, cloaks, capelets and stoles were all popular and diminished the need for shawls.

Paisley shawls were heirlooms and passed down to daughters and nieces through the generations. They are rare because, due to their size and value, they were often cut up and restyled into other garments or used within the house as a decorative table covers or throws.

The Kashmiri paisley shawl in The Darnell Collection is dated c.1860 and is made from wool, silk and domesticated goat hair woven on a jacquard loom.

This shawl was gifted to the collection from Bob McKeown whose late wife, Deborah, bought it in American when she was collecting Victoriana. The shawl was included in the recent travelling exhibition, Flora & Fauna: The Nature of Fashion.

Kathleen Moss gently reinforces some of the fragile areas of the shawl before it goes on display at
Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, NSW
Wool and silk woven on a jacquard loom encircle the goat's hair (brown) decorative panel at the centre.





The curatorial team at Blue Mountains City Art Gallery help with the hanging of this enormous shawl - scissor lift and all!

Hanging at Bundaberg Regional Gallery as part of 'Flora & Fauna: The Nature of Fashion'


This is how it would have been worn.
(I apologise for not properly crediting this photograph but I couldn't find any reference to its origination on the net.) 

20s Dance Dress Worn on the High Seas

Storytelling Brings Fashion to Life




In 1927, Rosa Perlman of Melbourne, embarked on a world cruise with her husband, owner of The Bias Binding Factory, at the time the only manufacture of bias binding for the thriving fashion industry in the city.

Rosa loved to travel and on this journey planned to sail from Australia and visit her favourite cities: Paris, Colombo, Kowloon and Berlin. At each city she made a point of buying something exquisite to wear and in Berlin she found this stunning silk chiffon dance dress, embellished with celluloid sequins in shimmering bronze, silver and gold.

As Rosa and her husband were champion Charleston dancers she knew this dress would turn heads as she twirled in the ship's candlelit ballroom in the arms of her husband as they sailed the high seas.

This dress was gifted to The Darnell Collection by Rosa Perlman's daughter, Barbara, 
who lives near Melbourne.

When Art Meets Fashion: Rodarte and Vincent Van Gogh

An extraordinary bequest, from a special benefactor to The Darnell Collection, were two dresses by the American sister's, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who design under the label, Rodarte (their mother's maiden name).

Inspired by the dream world of the Post Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh, their 2012 collection integrated Van Gogh's loose, painterly brushstrokes into their fine, precise and detailed embroidery and patterns. This added to their already romantic design ethos for which every detail is meticulously thought through, some details intricately hand stitched in the old-world techniques favoured by the master couturiers.
This concept of 'art meets fashion' is exciting and brings a new layer to the different inspirations designers choose to follow. 
My friends and respected fashion authors, Alison Kubler and Mitchell Oakley Smith, talk this through further in their book 'Art/Fashion in the 21st Century' (Thames & Hudson).






Spectacular Paco Rabanne Red Carpet Gown

A truly stunning and extraordinary dress is by Spanish born, Paris based designer, 
Paco Rabanne

The gown was gifted to the collection by an Australian collector who has an undeniably good eye for buying important garments that showcase he designer, the decade and celebrate the art of dressmaking and glorious fashion styles. 

This dress was from Rabanne's 1988 collection and was originally bought by a dealer from Antwerp at auction in Paris, Hotel Druout, when Paco Rabanne's archives were officially sold. (This wouldn't happen today!)

I am waiting for a very special occasion to exhibit this dress. 
It will be THE show stopping centre piece, without doubt.

Photographs by Brigitte Grant Photography









Gerber Technology and The Darnell Collection inspire the next generation of Fashion Designers: IDEATION MIAMI

Here are the 2016 winning fashion students' inspired designs, alongside the original vintage garment from The Darnell Collection
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The Darnell Collection showcases cutting edge and 21st century technology (and companies), such as Gerber Technology's AccuMark and YuniquePLM systems, by bringing to life their 
extraordinary products in a unique, visual and narrated catwalk experience. 
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Congratulations Lin, Ashley, Ye, MariaVictoria and Natalia
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I'm looking forward to the Ideation 2016 Miami catwalk presentation 
on September 30th at the Ritz Carlton Miami!
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