A sponsored post brought to you by Nuffnang and the National Trust of Victoria.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening of The Dressmaker costume exhibition at Ripponlea last week. What a beautiful, opulent experience, seeing the Parisian inspired fashions from the film.
I saw The Dressmaker film with my Mum last year, and loved it. Here’s a bit about the film in case you need a refresher.
“Based on the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker is a bittersweet, comedy-drama set in early 1950s Australia. Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet), a beautiful and talented misfit, after many years working as a dressmaker in exclusive Parisian fashion houses, returns home to the tiny middle-of-nowhere town of Dungatar to right the wrongs of the past. Not only does she reconcile with her ailing, eccentric mother Molly (Judy Davis) and unexpectedly falls in love with the pure-hearted Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), but armed with her sewing machine and incredible sense of style, she transforms the women of the town and in so doing gets sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.”
Kate Winslet perfected the country Aussie accent as Tilly Dunnage, and Liam Hemsworth, who played Teddy, was quite nice to look at (especially as he was being measured for a suit!). I spent a lot of the film gasping at each beautiful costumes. So it was wonderful to see these costumes up close in person.
The exhibition transported us back to the film – set in the 1950s, to the country town of Dungatar – the searing heat of the fields, the sweaty, rowdy football games and the glamour of a country wedding. There are 50 designs on show – worn by Kate Winslet, Sarah Snook, Rebecca Gibney, Allison Whyte and Hugo Weaving – to name just a few cast members.
Before the exhibition opened, author Rosalie Ham spoke about how pleased she was with the adaptation of her book. She said how her writing process, particularly when she created the imagery of the costumes, was a lot like a dressmaker creating the costumes.
She and a few family members played extras in the film.
Rosalie Ham said in creating the costumes in the book, she created the personality of the characters, accentuating their faults. This was clear in the film – the more over the top the dress, the less genuine and nice the personality. Tilly Dunnage, hoping to redeem her reputation, made and wore such elegant clothes. Regal even. Her wardrobe had the very integrity she was trying to prove to the people of Dungatar. Tilly also transformed the people of Dungatar with her fashions – taking them from rags to riches. Her skill was so sought after.
Marion Boyce, acclaimed dressmaker, made a short speech – thanking the crew, and making a special mention to the cast who endured the Corsetry in the heat of country Australia. Marion’s favorite costume was the one above – black with chiffon pleated sleeves. I loved it too, Marion.
It’s easy to see why Marion has won so many awards for her costume design – the level of artisanship and detail is spectacular. The ballgown Gertrude (played by Sarah Snook) wore is encrusted in beads, so delicate and beautiful.
One of my favourite parts of the exhibition what the video explaining how Molly Dunnage’s (played by Judy Davis) old sweat stained, well worn clothing was made. There was a room full of her clothes – they certainly didn’t smell like I expected them to!
Another highlight for me was Tilly’s sewing room – filled with fabrics, a feather boa and a dressmakers dummy. I loved the image of Tilly sewing. It made me feel I was on the film set.
There’s so much more I could show you, but you really should see it yourself. I can’t wait to go again with my mum and friends.
The Dressmaker exhibition is held at Ripponlea Estate, Elsternwick until 31 July. For more information, visit The Dressmaker website.