Celebrating a revival of 20th century designs and a return to handcrafted, demi-couture pieces .
Australian and international fashion labels, Morrissey, Michelle Jank, Easton Pearson, Karen Walker, Gianni Versace, Christian Dior and Chloé are featured in the annual Grand Marnier/Powerhouse Museum Fashion of the Year exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.
Established in 1991, Grand Marnier/Powerhouse Museum Fashion of the Year draws together a panel of discerning fashion commentators and Powerhouse Museum representatives to select the designers, outfits and accessories that represent some of the year's most influential fashion themes and trends.
As major partner in the event since 1998, Grand Marnier's sponsorship of Fashion of the Year has enabled the Museum to continue to develop an exemplary collection of contemporary fashion. This important collection forms the basis of exhibitions, research and publications on contemporary international and Australian fashion - a source of information and inspiration for all Australians.
One of the most inspiring stories comes from Australian designer, Michelle Jank, who only last year completed her final year of fashion design at the Sydney Institute of Technology. She has already had a solo show at Mercedes Australian Fashion Week and now sells her work through Australia's top boutiques and the exclusive Browns of London.
Michelle has experienced unprecedented acclaim for her beautiful demi-couture pieces and the garment selected is no exception, comprising a halter neck top embellished with antique jewellery, teamed with a pair of 'slouchy boy' pants.
Delighting in the beauty and rich history of antique textiles and jewellery, Michelle calls herself a magpie collector, seeking out pieces in antique and second-hand shops. These collected treasures form the starting point for Michelle's designs. She collages, layers and hand stitches these mysterious and evocative pieces into garments, producing exclusive and treasured designs.
Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson of Australian label, Easton Pearson, have taken a similar demi-couture approach with their rich romantic clothes using beautifully embroidered, appliquéd and sequinned fabrics. The Easton Pearson piece selected is an exquisite sequinned top and skirt featuring a stunning appliqué of sunflowers.
Easton and Pearson design the clothes, the decorative detail and pattern on their textiles. They have a small workshop in India of highly skilled artisans who do most of the embroidery and beading.
Peter Morrissey, who launched his label in 1997, successfully combines glamour with sex appeal. The Morrissey outfit selected comprises printed and sequinned trousers and a halter neck top.
The outfit features a print from original artwork by indigenous Australian artist, Jacinta Numina Waugh. Peter explains that the choice of a work by an indigenous designer was not a political move, rather a general desire to 'use great graphics from a country I love'. (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 May 2000).
New Zealand designer, Karen Walker, has also attracted international attention with her distinctive style and fabulous fit, and is now selling through some of the world's most prestigious fashion stores.
Walker's style is essentially casual and comfortable, but is distinguished by the way she accentuates and plays with detail, also producing unexpected juxtapositions of fabrics, shapes and ideas.
A dress was chosen from Karen Walker's Etiquette collection - her take on society dressing. She took the key symbols of the socialite's wardrobe - the simple black cocktail dress and string of pearls - and turned them casual with a street edge. Walker is particularly proud of the dress as it sold well in Australia, Japan, America and Britain and '…managed to walk the knife edge between being a showpiece, a good seller and a garment that communicates the concept of the show in a second'.
The House of Christian Dior, established in 1946 and distinguished by its elegant, feminine and highly constructed styles, took an exciting new direction with the appointment of avant-garde British designer, John Galliano as creative director in 1997.
The outfit selected from Dior's Spring/Summer 2000 collection pays homage to hip-hop queen Lauryn Hill, recognising the important influence 'black hip-hop' culture has on contemporary American culture. Galliano celebrates their brazen displays of wealth and status through designer clothes and flash jewellery. The collection, dubbed 'Ghetto fabulous' by the fashion press, featured a cleverly cut denim jacket, gold chain print skirt, denim saddle bag and logo printed denim boots.
Changes have also been seen at Versace with Donatella Versace, taking over as designer for the Versace signature label in 1997 following the shock murder of her brother, Gianni Versace. She has successfully enriched the label's international standing with her sleek, sexy and rock-influenced styles.
A dress chosen from Gianni Versace's Autumn/Winter 2000/2001 collection was inspired by the jet-set lifestyle of the super rich in the 1970s and 1980s, evoking a fairytale of slick, glamorous lives and high-maintenance looks. The psychedelic, swirl print of the dress is also a retro reference to the vibrant patterns and clashing colours of Italian designer, Emilio Pucci, from the 1960s and 1970s.
One of the most influential items from this year's collection of French couture house, Chloé, was the retro-style aviator sunglasses with a diamante heart trim. Stella McCartney's design became one of the most recognisable accessories of the year.
The Grand Marnier/Powerhouse Museum Fashion of the Year 2000 selection of seven garments and accessories was displayed at the Powerhouse Museum from 21 November 2000 for one year.
Drawn from the ready-to-wear collections of international and Australian designers, the selection enters the Museum's permanent collection ensuring that the Powerhouse Museum develops and maintains a well considered collection of contemporary fashion.