Launch of The Australian Women's Weekly Fashion: The First 50 Years
Glamorous event celebrates vintage fashion in NLA's new book
17 June 2014
On the evening of Friday 30 May in the Library's foyer the catwalk went up and the cocktails came out to launch NLA Publishing's The Australian Women's Weekly Fashion: The First 50 Years. As the picture researcher for the book I was lucky enough to be one of the 250+ guests at the event, many of whom got into the spirit of the event by dressing up in vintage and vintage-inspired outfits. The event was taken to a whole new level by the presence of the charismatic Charlotte Smith and her stunning collection of vintage fashion, some of which was shown by models both on the catwalk and in the crowd.
Having a passion for fashion and fashion history myself, The Australian Women's Weekly Fashion has been the most enjoyable NLA Publishing project I've worked on. Like Kirstie Clements, former editor of Australian Vogue and co-author of the book, who spoke of the surprise she felt upon seeing early issues of The Weekly, I too was thrilled when I discovered how elegant and beautiful the fashion illustration in the magazine was. When I started looking at old copies of The Weekly I felt as though I had unearthed a cache of glamorous vintage outfits in the attic! Who knew that these treasures were lying hidden in the history of one of Australia's best known and loved magazines?
Admiring the flawless vintage looks on the models on the night, I realised that they had been inspired by illustrations from the book-a real thrill to see! It then became a delightful game to spot each different model and try and figure out which Women's Weekly illustration had inspired her look.
The speakers that launched the book were another highlight of the evening. Belinda Riding, the face of Canberra's Fashfest 2014, gave guests an insight into her exciting international modelling career. Finding out that authors Deborah Thomas and Kirstie Clements are actually good friends, and seeing the rapport between them as they discussed historic fashion trends and swapped personal anecdotes, really gave the evening a fun and familiar vibe. Finally, Charlotte Smith told the incredible story of how she came to be the caretaker of the Darnell vintage fashion collection (it began when she inherited over 3,000 pieces from her American godmother) and spoke with obvious passion and sentiment about the importance of fashion in the lives of women, both past and present.
This special evening saw the Library celebrate the role that fashion has played in Australia's history and culture, and it was gratifying to see this embraced by the many stylish and dynamic women who attended the event.