The History of Wool: From Functional to Fashionable - A Brief History


Kings and queens, Romans, Spanish adventurers, U.S. Presidents, spinsters and wars all feature in the long and diverse history of wool. Folklore and traditions are also important in its dramatic story.

As far away as the plains of Mesopotamia as long as 10,000 years ago, primitive man capitalised on the versatility of sheep. He used the meat for food and the skins (albiet with the fur attached) for warmth and shelter. Later, with the advent of early, basic spinning techniques the wool was removed from the skin and spun. The mobility of sheep allowed man to move and civilised man developed and the sheep industry advanced.

The inaugural exhibition at The Fashion and Textile Gallery, Australia's first gallery dedicated to fashion and the history of fashion, opens on March 9th. The History of Wool: From Functional to Fashionable” looks at the history of the wool industry around the world and at the use of wool in a diversity of garments and accessories dating from as early the mid 1700s to 2009. Forty mannequins dressed in wool, from a Victorian bathing costume to a 1960s Dior suit to a vintage garment by Jenny Kee to a 2009 draped gown by Michelle Jank, will grace the 7th floor of a dramatic new design centre in Surry Hills. A focus of the exhibition be will on Australia. Since 1788 when sheep arrived on the First Fleet, Australia has provided the world with close to half a billion kilos of fine merino wool. The United States and Great Britain also played an important role in the development of wool as a global industry using technology to develop wool fabric suitable for all types of garments and uses. A number of garments from these 3 countries will be featured along with garments from France, Italy, South America, Germany and Japan and will include suits, ballgowns, lingerie, sportswear and outerwear. Handbags, hats and shoes will also be on display. Australian Wool Fashion Awards); a collection of internationally applauded wool garments by Australia's leading fashion designers from AWI's (Australian Wool Innovation) archives and historic garments from The Darnell Collection (Australia's foremost private collection of vintage garments) will weave the international story of wool with history, folklore and facts.