Outfit, womens, consisting of skirt and top, cotton / plastic, designed by Merivale, made by The House of Merivale, worn by Irene Combe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1965-1970
Irene Combe, born 1951, Sydney, was a fashion model from 1967-1986. At the urging of her husband-to-be, radio announcer, Ward 'Pally' Austin, Irene began her modelling career at 16 Ā½ years of age, joining Sydney's premier modelling agency, June Dally-Watkins Modelling Agency, late 1967.
The collection is a modelling archive of clothing worn by Irene Combe, 1965-1970, and illustrates a period of immense change in Australia's fashion landscape. Fashion in the 1960s was moving away from the unnaturally contrived silhouette of the clinched waist and voluminous petticoats synonymous with 1950s fashion. Dress shapes in the 1960s were simple with clean lines. The clothing featured in the collection embodies the essence of what was considered in the 1960s to be modern, youthful, daring and with the advent of the mini skirt, somewhat shocking. The garments are feminine in design, less structured and reflect the aesthetics and values of a blossoming youth culture.
The youth of the 1960s wanted to be recognised as a 'class' separate to their elders and used fashion as a tool of rebellion. With money to spend and easy access to the contraceptive pill, this younger generation enjoyed an unprecedented level of freedom. The fashion market responded accordingly to this growing youth consciousness. Inspired by London fashion, the mini symbolised the defiant attitudes of 1960s youth. Irene comments that she "secretly loved the shock element of our tiny mini skirts".
Outfit comprising skirt and top made by The House of Merivale. Established in Sydney in 1960 by Merivale and John Hemmes, The House of Merivale promoted fashion that was inspired by London's boutique culture and featured a fusion of fashion, pop music and art in an atmosphere that was dynamic and fun. The House of Merivale designed 'modern clothes for people with a zest for life' and revolutionised young people's fashion and shopping experience.
Specialising in affordable clothing for the fashion savvy eighteen to twenty-five year olds, The House of Merivale stocked selected imports and clothes designed by young innovative Australian designers including Prue Acton, Norma Tullo and Kenneth Pirrie. Within the first few years, The House of Merivale stocked exclusively the self-taught Merivale's own designs manufactured locally from their factory, limited production runs of around twenty-five new garments each week. Fashion produced by The House of Merivale articulated the mood and identity of Australian youth during the 1960s.
(Reference: John Hemmes quoted in 'Setters of trends,' Australian Press material, c. 1979)
This outfit comprising mini skirt and top is part of a collection of clothing worn by Irene Combe during her career as a model, late 1967-1970. Several garments in the collection were featured in various print media and commercial advertising campaigns.
Reminiscences of Irene's early modelling days, provides a colourful contrast to the experience of today's well paid models. Irene recalls that modelling was not a lucrative career in the 1960s. Generally it was up to the model to create 'the look' from a brief outline of requirements supplied by the agency. Models were expected to create several different looks using their own clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as do their own hair and make-up. Irene recalls travelling to photographic shoots on public transport carrying a large vinyl tote bag with clothing draped over her arms and her hair in 'Carmen' rollers.