After Five : Fashion from the Darnell Collection
23 Mar 2013 - 12 May 2013
An exhibition which celebrated the glamour and elegance of the cocktail dress, ball gown and eveningwear.
After Five: Fashion from the Darnell Collection was a celebration of the artistry of designers and a window to the social history of the twentieth century. With gowns by some of the greatest names in fashion, as well as some talented but little-known designers, the exhibition illustrated stylistic moments in fashion, and explored how and why eveningwear has changed for women over the years. Commencing in the 1920s and spanning the decades since, the exhibition presented garments and accessories originally worn to cocktail soirees, balls, opening nights at the theatre, charity events, graduation parties and red carpet galas, and for dancing at nightclubs and discotheques.
The exhibition was entirely drawn from The Darnell Collection of International Vintage Couture. Now considered Australia’s largest private collection of fashion, the collection has an intriguing provenance. The core of the collection was put together by Doris Darnell, a Quaker from Pennsylvania, who from the 1930s gathered together items of clothing worn by her wealthy friends and acquaintances. Of particular interest were the glamorous garments worn for special occasions. In 2004 Doris bequeathed half her collection to an American university, and the other half to her goddaughter, Charlotte Smith. Since inheriting her godmother’s collection of precious fashion, Charlotte has continued to develop the collection, which now numbers over 6000 items of dress. New acquisitions by Charlotte have resulted in many of the works represented in the exhibition bearing an Australian provenance.
This major exhibition presented over 30 unique outfits from around the world including designers Christian Dior, Mary Quant, Oscar de le Renta, Bruce Oldfield, Adolpho, Emilio Pucci, Emanuel Ungaro , Christopher Essex and Franco Moschino among others. Accessories across the decades including hats, shoes, evening bags and jewellery were also featured including a rare 1920’s Tiffany brooch.
Curated by Charlotte Smith this was the first major fashion exhibition to be held at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre.
Image: Evening dress, c 1938, silk crepe trimmed with glass and metal beads, Darnell Collection.