The 70s! It was the decade where sartorial rules were broken. Fashion was eclectic, colourful, and reflective of the fast paced changes in society’s attitudes of the time.
It was also the decade I was born into, and very much connect to in regards to my own personal style. Graphic prints, bold colours and long elegant silhouettes, what’s not to love!
Now on at Rippon Lea Estate, Super 70s A Fashion Exhibition showcases the eclecticism of the 1970s and features exquisite 1970s garments and accessories from the National Trust’s Costume Collection, as well as rare collection items by Australian design icons including Prue Acton, Sally Browne, Clarence Chai and The House of Merivale.
I went along with my mum to the historic Rippon Lea Estate managed by National Trust of Australia (Victoria), which just happens to be celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, to check it out the Super 70s vintage fashion exhibition, and also take a wander through the gardens, as she’d never visited.
The house was built in the 1860s but has been transformed for the exhibition with lighting effects and ‘groovy’ installations to capture the spirit of the 1970s.
As you walk though a set of purple velvet curtains at the front entrance, you are greeted by a volunteer in 70s attire, mirror balls and a disco soundtrack. I was ready to party!
The exhibition is divided into rooms each having a theme or specific style and how the specific fashion trends tied into the broader cultural changes of the 70s in Melbourne.
From an interview with Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna, Exhibition Producer and National Trust Curator-
“In Melbourne, change during this decade was relentless, fast-paced and monumental.
“The progressive change and counter-cultural influence had a long lasting impact on how we dress. The lines between formal and informal began to be eroded, with day wear able to be worn as evening wear and denim and casual wear took on a whole new meaning. Unisex styling also had a big effect.
“Fashion became casual and relaxed far removed from the mannered etiquette of previous years when stricter dress codes applied.”
Many of the pieces have been contributed by local collectors, or the original designers themselves and are in excellent condition. I would love to have all of these pieces in my wardrobe, totally my style and still extremely fashionable.
Mum spent the whole exhibition reminiscing about the outfits she once wore back in the day.
“I remember wearing a dress just like this for my engagement”
“I wonder what ever happened to that embroidered blouse?”
“I had a pair of satin jeans just like that!”
It was the era of affordable crease free synthetic fibres on which colours could be printed vibrantly – unfortunately the static and sweaty clingy fabrics were not a highlight for those that lived through the decade.
It’s also interesting to note that much of 70’s fashion was heavily influenced by the retro revival of the inter-war period and mid-20th century. Lovers of vintage fashion will spot the classic lean lines inspired by gowns from the 30s and 40s and then reinvented with bolder fabrics and motifs.
Colour TV was first broadcast in Melbourne 1975, kids will enjoy sitting in an authentic reproduction of a 70s lounge room. For older visitors it will bring back memories of times past.
The fashion selected for the exhibition has a real relevance and highlights the amazing creativity of the 1970s.
This Super 70s vintage fashion exhibition is a must visit for all vintage fashion lovers, and those interested in Melbourne’s history and societal changes during that era.
Super 70s Vintage Fashion Exhibition
Rippon Lea Estate
192 Hotham Street, Elsternwick VIC 3185
27 July – 4 November 2018 Open daily, 10am – 4pm
Adult $20 (reduced prices for members and concession)
Tickets available at gate or via www.superseventies.com.au