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Captivating Style: 1950s Melbourne

Start Date 14 February 2013
End Date 31 December 2013
Venue National Gallery of Victoria
Location Melbourne, Australia
Curator Danielle Whitfield and Maggie Finch
Exhibition display of dress on open display plinth
exhibition display of dress on open display plinth
exhibition display of dress on open display plinth

Captivating Style: 1950s Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, 14 Feb 2013-31 Dec 2013

A new display at the National Gallery of Victoria features key artists who helped to cultivate Melbourne’s era of style and glamour during the 1950s. Captivating style: 1950s Melbourne pairs the work of fashion designer Hall Ludlow and milliner Thomas Harrison, acclaimed for their ingenious designs and technical prowess, with the fashion photography of Athol Shmith, the celebrated studio and street photographer. In the 1950s, tree-lined Collins Street was considered Melbourne’s epicentre of style. Here, exclusive salons and millinery houses reigned over fashionable society by selling custom-made luxury products to a discerning clientele. Photographers also contributed to the glamour of the precinct. Several leading studios at the ‘Paris end of Collins’ specialised in commercial fashion illustration, creating enchanting images of ideal beauty and perfection for public consumption. 

Photos courtesy of National Gallery of Victoria

“These salons and studios wielded an enormous influence on Australian style. Athol Shmith’s photographs captured the world of elegance and allure that was created through the brilliant millinery of Thomas Harrison and haute couture fashion of Hall Ludlow.”
Tony Ellwood, NGV Director

Captivating style presents twenty photographs from the NGV’s extensive archive of Shmith works alongside fashionable garments that defined the era, including never-before-displayed Ludlow gowns generously gifted to the NGV by Peggy Stone.