A friend of mine told me last year that she’d spent some time playing Kate Winslet’s body double in a movie called The Dressmaker (not the naked kind, the clothed kind of body double). From what she told me and watching the movie trailer I knew that I had to see it. As soon as it was released I grabbed my husband and dragged him along. He was expecting a chick-flick but was delighted to experience this black comedy/drama written and directed superbly by Jocelyn Moorehouse from a book of the same name by Rosalie Ham.
The movie covers betrayal, love, hope, loss and vengeance, all wrapped up in the amazing costumes of Marion Boyce who you may know from her stunning work on the costumes of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries TV show.
“A dress can’t change anything” says Gertrude in the movie, “Watch and learn Gertrude. Watch and learn” replies Tilly Dunnage aka The Dressmaker. The dress that Tilly then makes for Gertrude (who becomes Trudy as her image changes) Marion labelled”how to snare a husband”.
And we discover just how powerful the effect of what you wear can be.
So imagine my delight when I discovered that there is a costume exhibition for The Dressmaker, featuring many of its exquisite costumes. The movie was filmed in rural Victoria near Horsham, which is turned into the fictional town of Dungatar. The exhibition is set in rural Winchelsea at the gorgeous National Trust property Barwon Park Mansion which is a fitting setting for these costumes.
Marion describes this exhibition as a “sort of narrative, putting the costumes into context of the film so that it doesn’t lose its playfulness”.
The exhibition is curated by Marion Boyce and I was lucky enough to have a few minutes with her for a quick interview. I asked on my Facebook page what you’d like to ask me, and here are the answers to the few questions I could get in during the time I had.
Up close you discover just how much time and effort goes into each of the costumes. They are beautifully crafted and the details are exquisite. The film juxtaposes the height of 1950s European fashion trends with small town country Victoria. When Marion was shown photos of the location before she started designing the costumes the thing that struck her were the birds of prey, and so a bird motif of “wings” was included in many of the costumes as you can see below.
Not only do you get to see the costumes, but also behind the scenes information on how the costumes were made and also aged to look authentic.
This exhibition is an extraordinary chance to see these remarkable costumes which play an enormously important role in the movie, they are almost characters in themselves! The “hat room” as Marion describes has the creations displayed as they would have in a department store from another era. She confessed that if she’d lived earlier she would have enjoyed being a milliner.
This was so interesting! I love vintage. I need to see this movie.
Yes please! Saw the movie and thought, if only they had an exhibition of those clothes. Well my wish has been granted. Whether I win or not, I will be going.
Boy do I wish this exhibit came to NYC! I had never heard of this movie before and am not sure it has been released in the States yet.
I’d love to go as I’d really like to be able to see the detail of the costumes.
I would go there at the drop of a (vintage) hat because I thrive on love, revenge and haute couture. I would love to swoon over the exhibition, plotting and scheming in my best designer threads. Life imitating art!
My mum used to make all of my clothes when I was younger – she is no longer with us but she would have loved to see both the exhibition and the movie. She would certainly have agreed with the “Watch and Learn” comment!
Sorry to hear she’s no longer around.
One occasional dressmaker;one occasional milliner; two good friends who loved the movie and who’ll go just about anywhere to see the work of the talented Marion Boyce. We’ll be there free tickets or no.
To be able to go to this exhibition would be a dream come true! After watching the movie i fell in love with the exquisite detail and vintage haute couture, as a younger person i have a passion for vintage and sewing all influenced by my mother and milliner aunt. I also would love to see the costumes that especially kate wore and the outifts my friends wore as extras in the film!
My mother was a dressmaker and used to hand sew the intricately designed cardigans with exquisite beadwork in Melbourne years and years ago. She’s still alive and still very fussy about what she wears. Even at 88 if there is a wedding coming up, she needs the time from invite to ceremony to get her outfit organised. We all had to learn to sew and to dress “properly”
Hem, hat, gloves, shoes and bag all had careful attention and hair done to perfection.
After her fall at 86 she had a walker and was told she couldn’t wear heels to my daughters wedding to which she replied: “nonsense, I can wear them to stand at their entrance and their exit and I can sit inbetween”
You have to love the era where a woman was a woman and dressed the part. These designers must have a ball.
Thanks for the information.