Saturday, May 18, 2013

After Five: Fashion from the Darnell Collection[1]
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Center (Sydney, NSW) presented a vintage fashion fest on Sunday the 5th May 2013. The centerpiece of the fest was the exhibition - “After Five: Fashion from the Darnell Collection” – featuring stylistic moments in fashion from the 1920s onwards.

The vintage fashion program also included a “Wild Ones Autumn Market”, a vintage dress up photo booth, free vintage clothing evaluations, brooch making for mother’s day (children/adult activity), making mother’s day cards, film screenings and guided tours of the gallery.

I wont bore you with the way I looked wearing my vintage fashion outfit by House of Merivale and Mr. John.

A Brief History of Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre
The property at 782-800 Kingsway, Gymea was purchased during World War II by Mr Ben Broadhurst. In 1946 a house was constructed on the site. It sits on 1.4 hectares of gardens. In 1976 Ben and Hazel Broadhurst transferred their property to the Sutherland Shire Council and so gifted the property to Council.

Hazelhurst Cottage on the grounds of the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre. It also serves as a premise for the artist in residence.

The garden area around the house is a special feature of the property, which includes Cypress Pines, Poplars and Jacarandas planted by Ben Broadhurst.

Some of the trees that litter the gardens of Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre.

After the property came into Council’s possession, in 1995 the "Friends of Hazelhurst" was established in order to support the realization of a Community Arts Centre and Regional Gallery. With the substantial commitment of the Sutherland Shire Council, and with the added support of $1million from the Federal Government, building on the site commenced in 1998.

The architects for the building were Michael Bennet – Partner, Jackson, Teece, Chesterman, Willis in partnership with Esther & Trevor Hayter. The builders were Belmador Builders. The garden was designed by Oi Choong.

The Café, Shop and Gallery at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre.

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre opened its doors on January 22, 2000. It was the first public arts centre of its kind in Australia. A more detailed history of Hazelhurst is available to visitors for purchase from the Hazelhurst gallery shop.

Mission of the Gallery
Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre is heavily involved in showcasing the artists of the region as well as raising the awareness of Arts in the community and moreover, offers creative and skills based education programs for primary and secondary students. Programs compliment exhibitions in the regional gallery, explore the beautiful landscaped gardens and make use of the extensive art studio facilities.

Children being given an intuitive insight into art.

Its outreach into the community is further supplemented by providing primary school, high school, adult, and master classes to the wider community. For example, Hazelhurst Master classes are professional one or two day workshops that allow you to enhance and develop your skills with new techniques, while working with an experienced artist as tutor. Classes are regularly available in different media and are designed for those seeking to further their creative development, as well as being for the more seasoned artist.

Fabric silk screening.

A number of facilities are for hire such as meeting rooms, studios, the Regional Gallery foyer, café and deck, garden and theatrette.

Printing press in one of the studios.

It has an artist-in-residency program in which the resident artist can make use of the original Hazelhurst cottage. The residence program allows artists to work and share their experiences with the community through scheduled talks and master classes. The program provides visitors with the opportunity to meet the artists and observe their creative process.

Sculpture by Robbie Rowlands – who was an artist in residence.

Whilst it has a heavy commitment to the community, 70% of its exhibitions are of national and international significance with the “After Five” exhibition being one of them.

After Five: Fashion From The Darnell Collection
The “After Five” exhibition celebrates the artistry of designers of the twentieth century. In doing so it gives a glimpse of the social history of women in that era.

“After Five” exhibition. The title refers to clothes worn after 5pm.

Doris Darnell was an American who lived in Chicago. She started her collection in 1937 (during the darkest days of the Depression) by buying a peach-colored slipper satin dress in a shop - Bryn Maw - in Philadelphia. This purchased triggered a lifelong passion for buying and admiring elegant eveningwear.

Evening bag ca. 1935.
Silk, cotton, metal and glass.
Gloves: kid leather.

Although a Quaker, this did not restrict her entry into fashion collection. When friends and philanthropists offered her their treasured dress, hat or handbag, she would record the story behind the gift which in her mindset was as important as the gift itself.

Evening dress ca. 1935. Front full view.
Silk crepe, glass and metal beads.
Gifted in memory of Deborah McKeown (2006).
Elements: Columnar line in keeping with the vogue for neoclassicism. The fabric (silk crepe) is suitable for draping and pleating and so allows the dress to fall from the shoulders. It is fastened with press-stud fastenings at the side. The backless evening gown is very much a 1930s statement.

Evening dress ca. 1935. Back detailed view.

During Second World War and its immediate aftermath, fashion was constrained, since fabrics were rationed. Doris Darnell like so many women of that time adopted a “make-do” attitude and so dresses were embellished using bows, beads and appliques. Nevertheless, that did not mean the end of purchasing after 5pm wear!

Cocktail dress and jacket ca. 1948. Full view.
Christian Dior (1905 – 1957), France.
Elements: Structured bodice shape with internal boning and fastened with minute hooks and eyes. The jacket is padded at the hips and an underskirt of stiffened tulle extends the full skirt.

Cocktail dress and jacket ca. 1948. Detailed view.

Her favorite fashion period was the second half of the 1950s. She was a mother with a young family during this time and so most of her entertaining was in her own home. This was the period when it was rigueur for women to own a range of evening wear, including cocktail dresses, dinner dresses and full-length ball gowns, each needing to be delineated by the mode of entertainment.

Evening dress 1951. Full view.
Hand-screened silk and cotton.
Gift of Barabara Coty, 2008.
Elements: Silk-screened black polka dots onto fabric.

Evening dress 1951. Detailed view.

Cocktail dress with attached stole ca. 1957. Full view.
Silk, cotton, metal and diamantes.
Elements: Full-skirted look, which typifies the 1950s.

Cocktail dress with attached stole ca. 1957. Detailed view.

By the 1960s Doris wore twin-sets with pencil skirts and in the evenings she looked sophisticated in the slender hostes gowns. At cocktail parties the little black dress was beginning to be featured.

Evening dress 1961 – 1963. Full view.
Mary Quant (1934 - ).
Silk machine lace, satin, rayon taffeta lining.
Acquired by Charlotte Smith, 2012.
Elements: Little black dress.

Evening dress 1961 – 1963. Detailed view.

For the next forty years Doris kept in contact with her goddaughter Charlotte Smith, who moved to Australia. In 2004 her goddaughter inherited the “second half” of "Doris Darnell Collection" comprising of a staggering 3500 items of clothing, from under wear to accessories to cocktail to evening gowns etc. The “first half” was given to Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania for their fashion archives. Today the Australian collection has grown to 8000 items through generous donations and selective purchases at vintage shops and textile auctions. Below are just a few that were on display at the exhibition “After Five”.

Silk, glass and sequins.
Gift of Rosa Perlman (1923).
Elements: With no fastenings, this evening dress slips over the head. An overlay of diaphanous silk chiffon is beaded in an abstract pattern.

Dance dress ca. 1927. Detailed view.

Evening kaftan ca. 1970. Full View.
Ninette Creations, Australia.
Acquired by Charlotte Smith, 2011.
Elements: Made from Tricel, a silk-like synthetic the kaftan has a mesmerizing pattern associated with pop art, psychedelic and the hippie movement.

Evening kaftan ca. 1970. Detailed View.

Ball dress 2008. Full view.
Michelle Jank (1976-), Australia.
Merino Wool.
Gift of Australian Wool Innovation, 2008.
Photograph: G.Antoni (The Artist Group).
Elements: Fluid and luxurious flair from the hips.

[1] After Five: Fashion From the Darnell Collection, Catalogue, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre.

1 comment:

Flora Fascinata said...

Thoroughly enjoyed hearing Charlotte Smith talk about her lovely Godmother Doris, when she launched Dreaming of Chanel, what an amazing collection and great backstory. Thank you for posting.