Get your best frock ready – award-winning costume designer Marion Boyce is here to talk all things fashion and film. You have seen her designs in The Dressmaker, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and even Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, and now you can meet Boyce in conversation at Old Government House.
Though she has played a hand in bringing some of cinema’s most memorable moments to life (who can forget Tilly Dunnage making her grand return to dusty Dungatar), this costume designer is also an avid collector of fashion.
“I've always been incredibly fascinated by objects and things,” Boyce explains, referring to herself as a bowerbird.
Naturally then, her latest exhibition of vintage bridal gowns has been titled The Bowerbird and The Bride. Now showing at Old Government House, the exhibition starts in the 1860s and finishes over a century later in the 1970s, showcasing more than 45 ensembles.
“It seems to me to be a natural conclusion, because after the 70s a lot of clothing from then on was bought from stores,” Boyce explains. “The vast majority of these frocks were actually handmade, so it’s one very large collection of memories.”
One particular dress she highlights is that worn in 1903 by a 15-year-old bride, who was one of nine children with no living parents. She married a widower next-door who had seven of his own children and in that moment became the mother figure for the entire family.
“I look at this frock and I really believe that it must have been a very good union, because the dress still survives,” Boyce says. “The dress wasn’t cut up and repurposed.”
Telling stories like these through fashion, the exhibition is a snapshot of Australia’s evolution on various fronts – many of which Boyce will explore when she appears in conversation on 8 August with Associate Curator Christopher Salter.
Their discussion will traverse Boyce’s bowerbird tendencies, as well as notable stories from her career and her inspiration for this exhibition.
Though The Bowerbird and The Bride is curated with her eye for design and fashion history, Boyce says her real takeaway is far more sentimental.
“I like that the exhibition shows that beautiful fashion doesn’t have be from a famous designer or belong to a film star,” she says. “The dresses really are a celebration of that family member, aunty, neighbour or person in the community who made these family treasures that have been kept and valued for generations.”
Marion Boyce In Conversation
8 August at Old Government House
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