Outfit, womens, shirt and pants, cotton, 'Goddesses' print, Jenny Kee, Australia, 1990
Jenny Kee collection of clothing, textiles, artwork and archive, Australia/England/Japan/Africa/USA 1967-1995
Jenny Kee (born Sydney 1947) is one of Australia's most important designers, best known for designing and retailing a unique range of colourful clothing and knitwear. One major theme links all aspects of this collection, Jenny Kee's love of Australia's unique natural environment. Her garments are a canvas for her artwork featuring images of native flora and fauna, the opal gem stone and urban icons like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
The Jenny Kee collection and archive was acquired by the museum in 1998 and 1999. They document the evolution of her clothing and textile designs, the creative process behind her designs, the development and management of her retail outlets Flamingo Park and Jenny Kee, the significant role she played in environmental activism in Australia and her public profile as a celebrity artist with-in the advertising industry.
The collection and archive document her life and work over twenty years and includes clothing and textiles by Jenny Kee as well as Kee's business partner Linda Jackson (b. 1950), original artwork for many of Kee's designs, business records, newspaper and magazine clippings, videos of parades, parade invitations, props and programmes, shop mannequins, shop signs, scrapbooks and posters.
The collection and archive not only records Jenny Kee's life and work, but also can be read as a document that charts important cultural changes in Australia. Kee was born in Bondi, to a Cantonese businessman father and Italian/British mother. An early newspaper clipping shows her modelling as the face of Canadian Airlines. In the 1960s, she, like many other young Australians, spent several years enjoying the creative atmosphere of 'Swinging London'. She returned to Australia in the early 1970s and attracted by the encouraging cultural climate of the new Whitlam led Labor government, decided to stay. Kee then opened her Flamingo Park' 'frock salon' in the Strand Arcade in Sydney selling her own designs as well as the work of other innovative designers like Linda Jackson, Peter Tully (1947-1992) and David McDiarmid (1952-1995). Many of the pieces sold through the shop are included in the collection as well as signage, programmes and videos of the lively parades she and Linda Jackson produced.
The collection preserves a unique record of this important designer's personal and professional career from the 1960s through to 1995.
Jenny worked with a designer who was working for Kaldors and Buyers. Jenny liked the designer's work so they collaborated on this print, the designer drew on Jenny's original Goddess print and reworked it into this design.
Jenny worked with a licensing agreement with 'Buyers', in about 1988, which was an Australian company working in Granville. At this point Jenny was trying to become more commercial, responding to encouragement from others. Unfortunately Buyers went under and Jenny's business suffered. Jenny felt their product was good but that they didn't have the necessary marketing skills. The encouragement to become more commercial did not make for a good period for Jenny. She found it soul destroying to lose control over the quality of her work and had been used to producing the best designs on the finest fabrics. In licencing she felt she lost her voice and the quality of her product.
This outfit was made in Australia by Jenny Kee.
This outfit was made in 1990.