Australia was generally reckoned as a country where, for much of the nineteenth century, there was little need for fashionable dress. As late as 1853, with the onset of the gold rush, The Emigrant's Guide to Australia continued to urge prospective emigrants to pack only the most useful and durable items of clothing.
With the steady influx of free settlers from the 1820s onwards, diaries, letters and surviving items of dress paint a different picture of colonial society, one which was often criticised for being preoccupied with fashion. Drapers, tailors and dressmakers advertised the latest goods and styles from overseas, while newly arrived emigrants found a society where the regular round of social activities required a range of appropriate dress.
This lecture will consider the nature of colonial society and the emigrant's experience through the lens of dress. What did people bring with them to start a new life in Australia and how did this match with what they found on arrival?
LAURA JOCIC is undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne, researching dress and its role in Australian colonial society. She was formerly a curator in the department of Australian Fashion and Textiles at the National Gallery of Victoria where she curated a number of exhibitions including AUSTRALIAN MADE: 100 Years of Fashion. In 2016 Laura curated the exhibition LOUIS KAHAN: art, theatre, fashion for the Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn. Her most recent lecture at The Johnston Collection was DRESSING FOR THE CAMERA: photography and the colonial portrait (2017).
image: Wedding dress, grey silk, worn by Janet Fleming (nee Robertson), Scotland, circa 1830-1840s collection of Museum Victoria, SH 991000, used with permission