Kevin Gibney

Kevin Gibney was a young, talented, and enterprising Brisbane milliner who specialised in bringing the styles of Paris and London to his devoted local clientele in the 1950s and ’60s.

Kevin Gibney hat, 1953

Who: Kevin Gibney (b.1926 – ?)

What: Prominent Brisbane milliner with a reputation for delivering overseas design trends to local women.

Where: Originally from Winton, Gibney settled in Brisbane, working as a clerk before pursuing his fashion career. He spent a large amount of time working and travelling overseas, but regularly returned to his home base in Brisbane. In the late 1940s Gibney’s first salon was located on Adelaide Street. A newspaper advertisement lists Gibney as operating from a space in the Rothwells building, next door to Rowe’s Arcade, (where contemporary Patrick Ogilvie was based), however, further details and dates of this tenancy are not known.

When: Gibney was a young man, aged only 20, when he began building a reputation as an exciting new Brisbane milliner in the late 1940s. He remained a popular fixture of the local fashion scene throughout the 1950s, and in to the 1960s.

Why: Gibney was highly skilled and trained extensively in his craft. He initially studied in Australia before heading overseas to learn more under the tuition of Otto Lucas in London, and Paquin in Paris.

Perhaps due to this experience, Gibney understood the appeal of importing a sense of glamour from overseas to his Brisbane clients. Bringing the styles of ‘abroad’ to Queensland, he was often reported to be ‘just back from Paris’ or about to set sail for London.

Thus, his designs deliberately reflected an international flavour. It is unsurprising, then, that Gibney was often mentioned in the same breath as Gwen Gillam; Brisbane’s answer to a European couturier in the 1950s and ‘60s. Women were commonly noted as wearing, ‘a Gwen Gillam dress with a hat by Kevin Gibney.’

In newspaper columns Gibney regularly served the role of a specialist commentator, educating the women of Brisbane on how to wear the new international styles, which he had, conveniently, reinterpreted just for them. Images of Gibney’s hats from this time emphasise the European designers whose work he has been inspired by, such as Givenchy. Operating in this context, Gibney’s hats were strictly for society women, whereas fellow Brisbane milliner Patrick Ogilvie was known for his democratic approach to providing ‘high fashion’ to women from all walks of life.

Gibney presented glamorous and sophisticated fashion parades at venues such as Lennon’s Hotel and Stuartholme. He creatively presented his hats, comparing them to great artworks. One collection he showed in the 1950s gave each hat a name based on a famous artist, such as Vincent Van Gogh.

Little information exists about Gibney after the early 1960s, however, he may have returned to London or Paris, or perhaps bowed out of the profession as millinery became a less important element of women’s wardrobes.

Kevin Gibney hat, designed to be worn in the morning, 1953
Kevin Gibney hat, designed to be worn in the morning, 1953
Kevin Gibney fitting a straw hat, 1953
Kevin Gibney fitting a straw hat, 1953
1951 Fashion Parade advertisement, featuring Kevin Gibney and Gwen Gillam
1951 Fashion Parade advertisement, featuring Kevin Gibney and Gwen Gillam
Kevin Gibney, Van Gogh hat, 1954
Kevin Gibney, Van Gogh hat, 1954
Kevin Gibney black and white hat, based on a Givenchy design, 1953
Kevin Gibney black and white hat, based on a Givenchy design, 1953
The Fashion Archives' Reading List:
  • 1947 'ANOTHER MALE MILLINER HERE.', The Courier-Mail(Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 31 March, p. 3, viewed 18 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49351982
  • 1952 'BRISBANE DESIGNER SAYS:.', The Courier-Mail(Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 1 August, p. 6, viewed 18 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50519005
  • 1953 'A MERE MALE SAYS: CHOOSE YOUR HAT CAREFULLY.', Queensland Country Life (Qld. : 1900 - 1954), 17 September, p. 19, viewed 18 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article100664443
  • 1953 'IN HAT FASHIONS.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 13 February, p. 8, viewed 18 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50565551
  • 1953 'Introducing a NEW FASHION FEATURE.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 2 January, p. 8, viewed 18 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50539956
  • 1953 'Brisbane designs New Hats for the New Season.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 21 August, p. 7, viewed 18 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article51072495
  • 1953 'Introducing a NEW FASHION FEATURE.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 2 January, p. 8, viewed 18 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50539956
  • 1954 'THERE'S AN ART IN SHAPING AN EASTER BONNET.', The Courier-Mail(Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 7 April, p. 10, viewed 18 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50571870
  • English, B. & Pomazen, L. 2010. Australian Fashion Unstitched: The Last 60 Years,
  • London, Cambridge University Press.

Published in , on November 19, 2013.