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Fashioned Here

Tracey Lord shopfront
Kingston Shops
Maggie Shepherd 1971, courtesy of the Canberra Times

Curatorial Statement

Fashioned Here unpacks the wardrobe of Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG). The exhibition shows the work of fashion designers and related private businesses that are represented in CMAG’s permanent collection, as well as selected current designers.

In 1997 a generous donation from Sylvia Parsons spurred CMAG’s interest in collecting objects and stories of private commerce in Canberra. The collection begins with a simple hat block from Stanley Taylor’s 1926 drapery in Kingston; and concludes with a series of colourful outfits designed by Maggie Shepherd, created in her Fyshwick workshop throughout the 1990s.

A study of decorative art, including what we wear, provides social historians with clues to the social values of a particular time and place. In the same way that clothing can provoke memories of important events in our lives, so fashion can come to symbolise an era. During the establishment phase of Canberra, enterprising individuals turned a profit from dressing the white-collar workers transferred from Melbourne in 1927. In the last eighty years Canberra has changed from a public service town to one in which 60% of the population is employed in the private sector. Along the way Canberra has produced designers with world-wide appeal.

Dale Middleby
Senior Curator of Social History
September 2011

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