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Home > Stories > Power dressing: the story behind Jessie Brookes' 1934 outfit

Power dressing: the story behind Jessie Brookes' 1934 outfit

In the words of senior curator Carolyn Fraser, this costume 'is an exhibition unto itself – so many stories are told in this one item.'

Carolyn tells how this remarkable costume (made for Melbourne's 1934 centenary celebrations) and its statement headpiece symbolised modern Victoria – and linked together enduring themes of industrialisation, community, the built environment and the natural world.

About Velvet, Iron, Ashes

Velvet, Iron, Ashes was a free exhibition held at the Library between October 2019 and July 2020. It presented a new way of seeing Victoria's history by drawing threads between people, places and events that were not immediately apparent, and which prompted viewers to make surprising connections and discoveries of their own.

Explore our dedicated Velvet, Iron, Ashes page to find out:

  • how the armour of infamous bushranger Ned Kelly is connected to cricket’s celebrated Ashes Urn
  • how fairy floss is connected to Victoria’s Latrobe Valley electricity industry
  • why the granddaughter of one of our prime ministers once wore a glittering velvet cloak symbolising the Murray–Darling irrigation scheme.

About this video series

This video is the second of three in which Carolyn tells stories from and draws out the surprising connections in Velvet, Iron, Ashes