Skip to content

Thomas Harrison, Milliner

Start Date 29 September 2006
End Date 29 April 2007
Venue The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia Federation Square, National Gallery of Victoria
Location Melbourne, Australia
Curator Katie Somerville and Danielle Whitfield
Exhibition display of hats
Exhibition display of hats

By the late 1930s, Ballarat-born Thomas Harrison was Melbourne’s best-known milliner. His hats were coveted by women from all over Australia and were recognisable for their exceptional finish, inventive forms and dramatic visual effect. An influential presence on Melbourne’s millinery scene, Harrison’s handiwork included one-off pieces for the wardrobes of individual clients, discreet ranges made to accompany the collections of local fashion houses, and whimsical historical showpieces created for his own in-house displays.

This exhibition presents an impressive selection of over 50 hats from the National Gallery of Victoria’s extensive Thomas Harrison archive, spanning from the 1930s to the 1970s. Gifted to the Australian Fashion & Textiles collection by the artist in 1976 and 1980, the archive numbers more than 230 examples. These works, which survey his long career, have not been seen en-masse publicly in three decades. Thomas Harrison, Milliner celebrates Harrison’s legacy, ingenuity and versatility as a bespoke milliner and examines his rich visual, historical and material vocabulary.

Photos courtesy of National Gallery of Victoria