Sunday, February 25, 2018

Roaring Twenties Art Deco Fashion Parade

Sequins, glitter, flashes of red, silver and gold heralded the annual Blue Mountains Roaring Twenties Festival held this past weekend that featured the Charleston Charity Challenge, the Long Lunch and The Darnell Collection Twenties Fashion Parade


In it's fourth year, the Long Lunch celebrates regional produce. 
Five courses, each provided and prepared by local producers and restaurants, matched with local wines, set the scene and got the two hundred guests in the mood for 
the annual Twenties Fashion Parade, styled by Charlotte Smith with outfits and accessories from 
The Darnell Collection. 

Six models walked the catwalk, 
under the Art Deco vaulted ceiling of the Hydro Majestic Ballroom, 
showcasing six different Twenties' looks. 

Not a sequin, feather boa or spangly headband was seen in the parade. 
Instead, daywear, sportswear, beach pyjamas, and silk robes brought to life socialites and movies stars who might have frequented Maxine Elliot's Chateau de l'Horizon, 
during an era of glamour, excess and louche lifestyles of the rich and famous told 
in Mary Lovell's book, The Riviera Set.

Garments new to the collection were seen for the first time including a stunning embroidered beach pyjama set that highlighted the exotic and the Oriental in the Twenties, as well as a new, informal fashion style introduced by Paul Poiret in the early 1900s
 and then made all the rage by Coco Chanel in the early Twenties.

Two silk kimonos, recently gifted to The Darnell Collection along with 700 other pieces, 
also featured on the catwalk. 
A rare claret coloured silk day dress, accessories with a rare ermine stole and velvet hat from Paris, also appeared on stage, as did a gentleman's sporting outfit including a linen shooting jacket and natty American-made tweed plus fours.

My co-presenter was Roger Leong, a friend, colleague and academic who is currently the Senior Curator at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) in Sydney. 
His knowledge of and passion for Art Deco made him my perfect guest. 

The exuberance, luxuriousness and beauty of the 1920s is still unsurpassed. 
The Darnell Collection boasts an extraordinary number of truly exquisite pieces from this decade. Fashion is so much more - 
it is story telling about social history too.

Thank you Brigitte Grant Photography for your beautiful photographs 
that capture the opulence of the Hydro Majestic Hotel and
 the decadence of the Roaring Twenties. 

With my co-presenter, Senior Curator at MAAS, Roger Leong
A rare robe with a pattern and colours so iconic of the 1920s
So perfect for a stroll down the boulevard in Cannes
A rare day dress with Bakelite buttons in an Art Deco pattern
A stunning embroidered Beach Pyjama set and a rare silk beach bag
Plus fours and a linen shooting jacket make for a sporting 1920s' day


A pretty silk day dress and Egyptian silk long vest, cotton parasol and Bakelite driving goggles suit a Poirot heroine
1920s accessorising
A rare and very delicate ermine stole and a beautiful hat with a brim made of golden lace

A pop of colour in the 1920s

Photographed in the opulent Cat's Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel
Lounging in silk 

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