Issue 5: Editors' Letter

Dear TFA Readers,

Histories of fashion and dress usually focus on prominent figures, designers, glamorous scenes and a particular social class. Subverting this trend, we are very excited to be presenting a thrilling essay about the decadent street style of Brisbane’s prostitutes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Written by cultural historians Melissa Bellanta and Alana Piper, this is a must read that sheds new light on fashions of the past.

Speaking of shedding new light, we’ve got plenty of other innovative Queensland fashion stories in this Issue. We detail the ground-breaking AKIN collection, which proved that Indigenous artists and Non-Indigneous designers can ethically collaborate to produce exquisite clothing. In addition, contemporary fashion designer Mark Neighbour has created a stunning 1930s inspired dress from an old pattern clipping in an issue of The Queenslander found in the John Oxley Library. And as always, there are piles of other original features on Queensland fashion.

For those of you who are just joining us, our brief introductory essay will provide you with all you need to know about The Fashion Archives project. And you can always catch up by browsing our past issues.

See you next fortnight!
Nadia & Madeleine


Cover image: Cotillion at Government House, Queensland, ca. 1881, courtesy of Old Government House, Brisbane.

Brothel scene, Queensland Figaro, 6 Jan 1883

The Appearance of a Flash Prostitute: Brisbane Prostitutes’ Street Style c. 1870–1910

Alana Piper, Melissa Bellanta

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Brisbane’s prostitutes were known for some of the flashiest fashions around, defiantly displaying their ‘gaudy finery’ on the city streets. Cultural historians Melissa Bellanta and Alana Piper expose the rarely told story of Brisbane’s early sex industry and its elaborate style.

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The AKIN Collection

AKIN set a new benchmark for collaboration between Indigenous artists and fashion designers. We take a closer look at the Queensland based project.

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Mark Neighbour and John Oxley Library

Designer Mark Neighbour follows a 1930s pattern from The Queenslander to produce a chic and contemporary child’s summer frock.

Kay McMahon

Kay McMahon

Industry expert Kay McMahon is keenly aware of changes in the local and international fashion scene. She gives local designers her advice on how to succeed.

Alison Kubler, 2013

Alison Kubler

Alison Kubler discusses the relationship between art and fashion, her love of vintage clothing, and her mother’s influence on her style.

Mark Neighbour

Mark Neighbour

Mark Neighbour reflects on over 20 years in the Queensland fashion business, and on what contemporary design can glean from the skills of home-sewers.

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Melissa Bellanta & Alana Piper

What do two cultural historians who specialise in gender and social history think about Queensland style? Read their Q&A to find out!

Suzanne Brooks in her New Farm apartment

Suzanne Brooks

Lawyer Suzanne Brooks has one of the most iconic collections of clothing and art in Brisbane. We were lucky to get a peek behind the doors of her exceptional wardrobe.

Ladies Cricket Team

Darling Downs

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 Five we take you to the Darling Downs.

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Janet Walker

Janet Walker was an inventive business-woman who ran a successful and respected eponymous dress-making label in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and even influenced the work of couturiers like Madame Paquin and Charles Worth.