Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Costume Collection

Yesterday evening I went along on a group tour of Loel Thomson's Costume Collection. It was organised by Nicole Jenkins from Circa Vintage Clothing, and I highly recommend going along next time there is one. Loel Thomson has been collecting everyday clothing, from the 1800s to the 1960s, for over 25 years. The Costume Collection is housed in a converted computer parts factory in Bulleen, and Loel and her husband live in former offices (he has his own workshop downstairs). The displays in the museum are changed frequently, with only a fraction of the total collection on display at any one time. She also has a library stuffed with the most amazing collection of books on clothing and fashion, including vintage magazines dating back to the 1830s, and a whole collection of lace. You can read an article about the collection in The Age here.

Currently in the museum, there is a display of winter fashions from Victorian times to the 60s; Victorian mourning clothes, jewellery and ephemera; a collection of hair jewellery; and a selection of items made from animal parts that would be illegal and in poor taste today, including an elephant foot plant pot, a tiger skin rug, an arctic fox stole, a koala tea-cosy (yes, made out of a read koala!), and some other rather creepy things. The best thing is that the collection is not just clothing, but all the other bits and pieces that make up a costume. Each model is fully clothed, with shoes, gloves, hat, jewellery, etc. There are lots of other interesting things as well: a moustache cup (so you don't get tea in your moustache), a lovely lady's travelling box with lots of little bottles that all fit in neatly, devices for ironing and crimping fabric, underwear, Australian trench jewellery, and lots more clothes. All the clothing is out in the open, so although you can't touch, you can get a good look from all angles in a way that is impossible when things are in glass cases.

I also met (quite by fortuitous accident) the lovely Marie from Vintage Suburbia, who's blog I've been reading lately. She was wearing a sweet vintage frock, black with pink flowers scattered over it, pink gloves and a straw and lucite handbag. Very classy.


  1. Dear Piroska (I am sorry but I have totally forgotten your first name!),
    It was so lovely to meet you last week at Loel's museum. I am so glad you did a post on it (your post was great by the way) as I didn't get around to writing anything up. And thank you so much for mentioning me and my little blog - very sweet of you. I LOVE your post about Dita von Teese by the way - isn't she absolutely fabulous?!
    Are you going along to the Red Door Burlesque thing at Order of Melbourne on Sunday night by the way? (advertised on Circa's blog) - it would be right up your alley.
    Hope to see you again soon, it was really lovely to meet you.
    Maria, Vintage Suburbia
    PS Like you, I also love books, but at the moment have to read Doris Lessing for my book group - rather hard going!

  2. It was lovely to meet you too! Thanks for letting me know about Red Door Burlesqe, a friend of mine has gone in the past and said it was really good, so I booked tickets for this Sunday. Hope to see you there!