Fashion Detective – The Social Life of Clothes at the NGV

Tony Ellwood, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) said recently that “… while the NGV holds one of the most substantial collections of fashion and textiles in the world, there are a large number of works that remain completely unattributed, and this is common throughout museum collections world-wide. These enigmatic objects incite our curiosity and make us question how these objects came to be; who created them, why were they made and who wore them?”

Become a Fashion Detective and help solve the mystery right along with the curators and conservators. This is an investigative exhibition, which seeks to uncover the histories of the clothes by using material evidence, x-rays, infrared photography and dye analysis. Adding imaginative scenarios devised by Fashion Detective authors Sulari Gentill, Leigh Redhead and Phillipa (P D) Martin (all members of Sisters in Crime) will add another dimension.

The distinction between today’s superstar couturiers and global luxury labels like this Pierre Cardin Jacket and Dress 1969 donated to the NGV by Bulgari Australia, with those of the nameless dressmakers and tailors of earlier centuries, could not be greater. It will be fun for viewers to imagine countless contexts the clothes on show may have been made for and the lives of the characters who may have worn them.

A range of forensic conservation techniques including X-rays, infrared photography, dye analysis and microscopy were employed to help visitors piece together information about the items. There will be information about poisonous dyes, concealed clues, mysterious marks, fakes and forgeries, as well as missing persons to whet your appetite so that you can use your art of detection to enjoy your encounter with long forgotten makers and owners.

These 70 mysterious, unattributed garments and accessories will be on display from 9th May to 31st August, 2014. “Fashion Detective will present a series of cases for close examination encouraging visitors to think differently about what we see and what we know,” Mr Ellwood said. Fashion Detective : Level 3, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia | 9 May – 31 August 2014 | Tues–Sun, 10am–5pm | Free entry


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