The Victorians were a funny lot. With their delicate-yet-morbid mourning jewellery wrought of hair, experimentation with photography of the deceased fully posed (Pinterest, my what you’ve taught me!) and turtle soup, they were indeed what you’d call a funky bunch. The NGV’s new exhibition at Federation Square, Fashion Detective, is a very ‘Alice-in-Wonderland-y’ piece, highlighting anonymous but fascinating objects from the Victorian era paired with specially-created stories by Australian authors to give the items their own special histories. What ho, up for a spot of charades chums? And maybe a little sleuthing too?
Quite a large exhibition most beautifully presented and enticingly lit, it reads like a wonderful Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. Can’t you just imagine these hipsters-of-yore in their embroidered waistcoats, peering down from the Windsor Hotel onto busy Spring Street below? Maybe talking about the cricket, or having another Phryne-Fisher worthy conversation.
I enjoyed how the delicate pieces of clothing were presented alongside works which contextualised them, bringing them life and immediacy.
The Fashion Detective exhibition is supported by Come Into The Parlour, a highly-interactive games space aimed great for schools, families and me. The Victorian era saw the rise of parlour games, and the NGV has created an absinthe green, black and white world of Victorian cut-outs to explore their silliness in. I really loved it. The NGV gallery security was most helpful while I pretended to be variously the Queen of Sheba and a teapot in the charades booth.
A haunted cross-section x-ray of a corset. X-ray is exploration is used to help conservationists discover more about the construction of garments, helping them uncover their secrets whilst restoring them in a manner true-to-time. Talk about Fashion Detectives! Now, let me get my pipe and deerhunter, Watson.