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Library early closure: The Library will close at 5pm on Thursday 23 October to prepare for the annual Keith Murdoch Oration. More information

Facade conservation & repair works: Over the next few weeks there will be intermittent noise in the La Trobe Reading Room while work is carried out on the external walls. More information

Library early closure & facade conservation works
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Liberty of the press

Booked out!
Thursday 4 September 2014, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Thursday 4 September 2014, 7:15pm - 8:15pm
Free

Prepare to be surprised and enchanted at this unique event where fashion meets art and theatre. Part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, 'Liberty of the press' merges the contemporary catwalk with a 19th-century salon, as cross-generational performer-models present tableaux vivants and provocative live performance.

The event highlights the life of Mrs Matilda Butters and the stories hidden in her extraordinary 'press dress' – a gown constructed from silk panels printed with the front pages of 19th-century Melbourne newspapers. Matilda first wore the gown at the mayor's fancy dress ball in September 1866, accompanied by a coronet headdress proclaiming 'Liberty of the press' and a staff topped with a fully functioning miniature printing press.

Liberty of the press also references the lesser known history of women and of Chinese immigration during the Gold Rush. Dressed in interior-lit crinolines – inspired by Matilda's gown – three performers will illuminate the Domed Reading Room and lead the way to a fashion extravaganza in Queen's Hall. The event also features a traditional Chinese drum performance and an artistic interpretation of a 19th-century banquet table incorporating an installation of bespoke designer shoes.

The evening’s salon-style talk showcases designs by New Model Beauty Queen and Preston Zly, the creative vision of Barking Spider Visual Theatre and Mrs Butters' press dress, now held in the Library's Realia collection. Barking Spider Visual Theatre was a recipient of the Library's 2013–14 Dome Centenary Fellowship.

  • Liberty of the press fashion parade, Thursday 4 September, 6–7pm
  • Liberty of the press salon talk, Thursday 4 September, 7.15–8.15pm