Issue 11: Editors' Letter

Dear TFA Readers,

Austerity often breeds creativity. Garment and textiles shortages during World War II inspired inventiveness and resourcefulness in local fashion. Paula Dunlop's insightful Fashion Smarts on the culture of 'make-do-and-mend' in Queensland fashion during this period shows just how innovative designers and home-sewers could be in the face of adversity.

It was at this time too that one of Queensland's most famous designers got her start. Paula Stafford used whatever fabrics she could find, including tea towels and old curtains, and made her garments reversible to effectively double their utility. Even after austerity measures were lifted following the war, these inventive features became hallmarks of her internationally successful brand of bikinis.

In this Issue, we also look at the way that practices of the past come to bear on contemporary design. We uncover an incredible resource of design and craft knowledge at the Embroiderers' Guild Queensland; we give contemporary designer Alice Payne the challenge of reworking Paula Stafford's inimitable designs; and we interview a local jewellery and ceramics artist, Erin Lightfoot, on how patterns and techniques from the 20th century play out in her very contemporary designs.

Some other great interviews can be found in this Issue: we talk to Sallyanne Atkinson, who reflects on a life of fashion and politics; chat with two sets of Brisbane collaborators, tom gunn and Alla Modaand we catch up with fashion and costume designer Leigh Buchanan.

See you next fortnight!

Nadia & Madeleine.

Cover image: Civilian employees participating in an air raid drill at Somerville House, Brisbane, 1942. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Detail from the cover of The Australian Women's Weekly, 8th August, 1942

Beauty, duty, and hope

Paula Dunlop

In a time where looking good was considered a patriotic duty, World War II fashion was both creative and thrifty. A look at ‘make-do-and-mend’ style in Queensland, 1939-1945.

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The Embroiderers’ Guild Queensland

An incredible collection of needlework dating back to the 17th century lies in an old Masonic Temple.

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Alice Payne & Gold Coast and Hinterland Historical Society

Designer Alice Payne is inspired by the prolific work of swimwear icon Paula Stafford.

Shannon and Gabrielle, tom gunn

tom gunn

tom gunn designers Shannon and Gabrielle share the challenges of designing footwear in Brisbane.

Erin Lightfoot

Erin Lightfoot

Erin Lightfoot reflects on her love of 20th century design and its impact on her contemporary textile and ceramic works.


Leigh Buchanan

Leigh Buchanan explores two different approaches to creating extravagant dress: costume and fashion design.


Alla Moda

Directors of Brisbane fabric institution Alla Moda give us their perspective on the evolution of drapery stores over the decades.

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Paula Stafford

Paula Stafford is one of the most famous Queensland fashion designers of the 20th century. Best known for introducing the bikini to Gold Coast beaches in the 1950s, Stafford designs became synonymous with the Queensland lifestyle of surf, sand, and sun.

Sallyanne Atkinson

Sallyanne Atkinson

The Lord Mayor who presided over Brisbane’s Expo, Sallyanne Atkinson, discusses fashion and politics.

Holidaymakers wearing swimming costumes walking down Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise,1958

Gold Coast

TFA’s People & Places is your road-map to the key sites, figures, and scenes that have shaped fashion in Queensland from the late 19th century onwards. In Issue Eleven we take you to the Gold Coast.