fashion

The Dressmaker

October 29, 2015
Kate Winslet in 'The Dressmaker' (2015)

There has been an 18-year gap between The Dressmaker and Jocelyn Moorhouse’s previous film, A Thousand Acres (1997), with a promising career being derailed by family matters. Although Moorhouse had intended to make an earlier comeback, with an adaptation of Murray Bail’s novel, Eucalyptus in 2005, this project turned into a shipwreck with as much … More


Flora & Fauna

October 2, 2015
Embellishment - metallic thread and gilt bead reticule, 1890

Fashion exhibitions have drawn millions of visitors to the world’s leading art museums, but there are still cultural snobs who believe such events merely trivialise an institution. I can hardly be bothered rehearsing the old argument that sees fashion as a filthy commodity while art is food for the soul and the intellect. It’s an … More


Dior and I

April 4, 2015
Raf Simons in 'Dior and I' (2014)

Fashion is usually considered a frivolous business, but at the top end it can get very dark indeed. Last year saw the release of two bio-pics of Yves Saint Laurent, in which the great designer’s mental and physical decay was charted in forensic detail. Closer to the present we have seen John Galliano go completely … More


Jean Paul Gaultier

January 24, 2015
William Baker
Kylie Minogue
Virgins (or Madonnas) collection, Immaculata gown
Jean Paul Gaultier, haute couture spring-summer 2007
net lace dress with large patterned embroidery and white linen cut-outs
© William Baker

There are fashion designers such as the enigmatic Martin Margiela who refuse to be photographed or to give interviews. Then there is Jean Paul Gaultier, the only designer to have hosted a weekly TV program, presented the MTV Europe Music Awards, and recorded a house music hit song called ‘Aow Tou Dou Zat’. Like Andy … More


Future Beauty

January 10, 2015
Comme des Garçons (Rei Kawakubo) / 
Spring/Summer 1997 / Collection: Kyoto 
Costume Institute / Photograph: Takashi 
Hatakeyama

In the catalogue for Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Rei Kawakubo is named as the world’s most influential living fashion designer. Although she gives few interviews, Kawakubo did submit to a 2005 New Yorker profile by Judith Thurman in which there is a telling comparison with … More


2014: The Year in Art

January 10, 2015
Roy Lichtenstein, 'In the Car', 1963.

2014 has brought mixed fortunes for Sydney’s art institutions. The Art Gallery of NSW began with a weak show of American art, and ended with the long-awaited Pop to Popism (until 1 March) – a distinct improvement, but possibly not the hit the Gallery so badly needs. In the meantime there has been a dearth … More


Fashion Icons

December 13, 2014
Dolce and Gabbana, Spring-Summer 2007 from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Photo: Jean Tholance - Les Arts Décoratifs

“We invent nothing,” said Christian Dior, the man who revolutionised fashion in the twentieth century, “we always start from something that has come before.” This refreshing admission seems an appropriate place to begin discussing the round of fashion shows dominating Australia’s art museums this summer. The essential exhibition is Fashion Icons: Masterpieces from the Collection … More


Yves Saint Laurent

June 28, 2014
Pierre Niney in Yves Saint Laurent (2014)

Behind every great man, as we learn in Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent, there’s a great man. More than any designer of the 20th century, Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) revolutionised the world of fashion, but his genius for haute couture may never have been fully realised without the business acumen of Pierre Bergé. This conventional, … More


Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion

February 1, 2014
Edward Steichen 
American 1879–1973, worked in France 1906–23, Tamaris with a large Art Deco scarf 1925, gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive © 1925 Condé Nast Publications

When Edward Steichen (1879-1973) accepted the job as Chief Photographer for Condé Nast publications in 1923 it was taken for granted he would work under a pseudonym. Already known as both a famous art photographer and a painter, his employer realised Steichen would probably not wish to be associated with the purely commercial work he … More


Newcastle: After Five, or Five Minutes to Midnight?

October 26, 2013
Ron Ramsey, Image courtesy of Newcastle Herald

It’s distressing that every time I’ve written about Newcastle this year the exhibition has had to share column space with some new crisis. The only progress is that these crises keep getting worse, with the latest developments being almost unbelievable. At a meeting on 24 September, the Council voted to adopt a controversial restructure proposed … More