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Emigration, dress and Australian colonial society, 1820s – 1860s.

November 15, 2023 @ 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Australia was generally reckoned as a country where, for much of the nineteenth century, there was little need for fashionable dress. As late as 1853, with the onset of the gold rush, The Emigrant’s Guide to Australia continued to urge prospective emigrants to pack only the most useful and durable items of clothing. With the steady influx of free settlers from the 1820s onwards, diaries, letters and surviving items of dress paint a different picture of colonial society, one which was often criticised for being preoccupied with fashion. Drapers, tailors and dressmakers advertised the latest goods and styles from overseas, while newly arrived immigrants found a society where the regular round of social activities required a range of appropriate dress.

This presentation will consider the nature of colonial society and the emigrant’s experience through the lens of dress. What did people bring with them to start a new life in Australia and how did this match with what they found on arrival? This talk will be presented by Laura Jocic.

Laura is a curator and dress historian with particular expertise in nineteenth and twentieth century Australian and international fashion and textiles. Laura has recently submitted her PhD thesis titled “Australian dress: the materiality of a colonial society in the-making” which she undertook at the University of Melbourne. Laura has worked in galleries and museums in Australia and New Zealand. In 2001 she co-founded the Costume & Textile Association of New Zealand. From 2007 to 2012 Laura was a curator of Australian Fashion and Textiles at the National Gallery of Victoria. While at the National Gallery of Victoria, she curated the exhibitions Australian Made: 100 Years of Fashion and Linda Jackson Bush Couture. In 2016 Laura curated the exhibition Louis Kahan: Art, Theatre, Fashion for the Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn and in 2020 she undertook a project for RMIT Design Archives interpreting the fashion designers Bruce Slorach and Sara Thorn’s collection of their work from the 1980s and 1990s.

An afternoon tea will follow the talk. Free event, bookings required – call 1300 630 920 or  https://www.greaterdandenong.vic.gov.au/greater-dandenong-council/events/emigration-dress-and-australian-colonial-society-1820s-1860s

Where:  Benga House, Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens, 66 McCrae Street Dandenong. When: Wednesday, November 15, 2023 1.30pm-3.30pm.



November 15, 2023
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Event Category:


Greater Dandenong Heritage


Benga House
66 McCrae Street
Dandenong, Victoria 3175 Australia
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