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Couture: Convention and conflict

  • Date recorded: 27 Mar 2016

  • Duration: 59:50

'When you look at trends in dress, they tell you so much about our broader social history'

– Katie Flack

About this video

Sit back and enjoy an entertaining and informative meander through the trends influencing women's fashion in a panel discussion led by the State Library's Program Manager, Giovanna D'Abaco.

The discussion is prefaced with a talk by the Library's Collections Coordinator Katie Flack, who provides a brief overview of changes in ladies' fashion between the 1880s and the 1920s, accompanied by a selection of images from the Library's collection.

Katie explains that trends towards simpler and more practical styles of clothing, such as the 1880s rational dress movement and Edwardian-era cycling bloomers, went mainstream following WWI. The war introduced massive changes for women as they took on roles in the workplace and society formerly reserved for men.

The topic then shifts to the later 20th and 21st centuries, as Giovanna introduces a panel including Katie Flack; Karen Webster, Head of Strategy & Development at Whitehouse Institute of Design; and Katie Somerville, Senior Curator of Fashion & Textiles at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Giovanna poses pertinent questions about the factors behind more recent changes in fashion as Karen and Katie, two of Australia's most informed fashion experts, share their insights into our fashion industry and trends.

From the impact of music and Hollywood to the influence of counter cultures, current events and technology, this fascinating excursion into style looks at fast fashion, slow fashion, the 'buy local, buy better' movement and more.

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Karen Webster is the Head of Strategy & Development at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. She was the Director of the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festivals from 2005 to 2010.

Katie Somerville is Senior Curator, Fashion & Textiles, at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Katie Flack is Collections Coordinator, Collection Development & Discovery, at State Library Victoria.

Giovanna D'Abaco is Program Manager at State Library Victoria.