Event, Melbourne

“The Dressmaker” Costume Exhibition

A couple of days ago, during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, I was fortunate enough to visit the brilliant costume design exhibition of the Jocelyn Moorhouse film The Dressmaker (2015). Based on the best selling novel by Rosalie Ham, this well-executed film, which stars Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, transports audiences to 1950s rural Australia and tells the story of Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Winslet) who returns to her hometown after working in the fashion houses of London, Milan and Paris, and transforms the lives of the residents of Dungatar by making a name for herself as chief dressmaker.

This film takes viewers on Tilly’s journey of self-discovery, with flash-back sequences investigating her alleged murder of a boy her age during her childhood. The developing present-day love story between Tilly and Teddy McSwiney (Hemsworth) is just beautiful to watch. Winslet’s wonderful portrayal of Tilly makes her a highly believable character; an independent and strong woman, who wears luxurious, bold gowns and hats inspired by Parisian couture, yet also struggles to overcome the scars of her past behind closed doors. It should also be mentioned that the supporting cast, namely Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving, delivered outstanding performances.

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I loved the film a lot so going to see this exhibition was a real treat! Visitors are greeted with a train platform sign saying “Dungatar” out the front of the estate and a red carpet leading into the immaculate Rippon Lea House, which now belongs to the National Trust and was built in 1868. As guests explore the intimate and lavish 1930s Hollywood-style interiors of the mansion they can see images of actors wearing the costumes, as well as beautiful production displays, spinning mannequins, projections, video clips, hat displays and realistic photo backdrops. The highlight for most people, of course, is the privilege of coming face-to-face with the creations of costume designer Marion Boyce, and Margot Wilson who designed Kate Winslet’s wardrobe. Seeing these beautifully-crafted artisan pieces right before your very eyes is very gratifying, albeit keeping your hands from touching the gowns is easier said than done! The amount of time and effort it must have taken to create each dress on display, truly left me feeling very inspired. The production team’s eye for detail with the props and artistic touches in each room should also be commended. In most settings these masterpieces are not hidden behind any glass and non-flash photography is permitted.

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Exit the mansion and find yourself in a stunning 14 acre-garden with a lake and waterfall, rustic iron bridges, grass tennis court, Gatsby-style swimming pool (not in use), conservatory, lookout tower, largest covered fernery in the world and windmill. The nostalgic 1950s style of the film also extends to the cosy pop-up Dungatar Tea Room and the flourishing gift shop, which serves as the start and end point of the entire experience.

The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition runs until July 31st at Rippon Lea House and Gardens, Elsternwick, from 10am until 4pm daily.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

Visit www.dressmakerexhibition.com.au for more information.

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Event, Melbourne

Les Misérables

If you’re in Melbourne right now you would undoubtedly have seen a phenomenon sweeping the city streets. Everything from trams to lamp posts has been decorated with Émile Bayard’s sketch of Cosette and people from all over Australia have been coming to Melbourne to experience two events that celebrate the story of 19th-century Paris in Victor Hugo’s epic literary work – Les Misérables.

For many months now there has been a sensational production of Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed musical screening at Her Majesty’s Theatre. This world-famous musical began in June and I’ve seen the show twice now, once during an afternoon performance on a rainy winter’s day and once more just recently at an evening screening. What can I say, the production is incredible and no matter how many times I hear the beautiful music, experience the realistic set design/special effects, see the phenomenal actors on-stage in their amazing costumes performing show after show, I’m left wanting more. I leave with goosebumps on my skin, my spine-tingling from the electric atmosphere in the theatre and tears in my eyes that it’s all over once again.

Theatre Day & Night

Victor Hugo’s timeless novel is a masterpiece and in a corresponding event at the State Library of Victoria entitled Les Misérables From Page to Stage, Melburnians can see Hugo’s original handwritten manuscript on display in a world-first exhibition. Right before my eyes were the words that the great master wrote from 1845-62 and in a frame on the wall nearby were the very quills he wrote those transcendent words with. Just incredible!

Last Sunday, during the Festival de Victor Hugo, curator Tim Fisher took visitors on a special guided-tour of the exhibition providing insight into Hugo’s life and adding an interesting background about the efforts the organisers went to in order to get this French national treasure to leave Europe for the first time and travel Business Class to Australia! I absolutely loved the exhibit and highly recommend a visit to all the fans out there. Everything from Rodin’s sculpture work of the great Victor Hugo to candid photographs of his life, immaculate artworks by the writer himself, programmes from shows around the world, costumes from the 2012 award-winning film, timeless memorabilia, musical insights in the French language, and a lot more can be seen until November 9th at the State Library.

"From Page to Stage"

In a specially-built addition to the main room showing the story of Hugo’s life, everything about the music from Les Misérables and musical adaptations come to life. The costume and visual art areas depict the endless amount of time spent in these creative departments through insights and screenings showcasing the work that goes into making a musical. Meanwhile the 25th Anniversary Concert from London’s O2 is played on a large screen for everyone to enjoy. Visitors are even permitted to try on costumes for themselves and take to the stage alongside the professional singers on the screen! There’s a brilliant gift shop at the end where everything and anything to do with Les Mis can be found!

I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience all this French culture here in Melbourne. Organisers have done a spectacular job bringing the production and exhibition here, giving true fans something wonderful to believe in and an unforgettable experience to cherish for life.

My Collection