• Margreta Elkins caftan gown by Danica of Double Bay, ca. 1970s
  • Paul Hunt, illustration based on Margreta Elkins' dress, 2013
  • Paul Hunt, illustration based on Margreta Elkins' dress, 2013
  • Paul Hunt, illustration based on Margreta Elkins' dress, 2013

Paul Hunt and The Darnell Collection

In this feature, a selection of guest contributors respond to an image or material artefact (typically a garment or accessory), that represents Queensland fashion. Each item is specifically chosen by The Fashion Archives in collaboration with collections and with a particular contemporary practitioner in mind. As a result, each Remember of Revive is a bespoke response and can take many formats and styles.

This Remember or Revive unites one of Brisbane’s leading designers, Paul Hunt, with Australia’s largest private collection of antique and vintage fashion, The Darnell Collection. From this collection we have selected a garment with a special Queensland connection; a stunning 1970s lamé caftan-style gown worn by Margreta Elkins, a Brisbane born mezzo-soprano celebrated nationally and internationally for her talent. This gown was part of a donation given to the Darnell Collection by Margreta’s husband after she passed away in 2009. This particular dress was worn by Margreta on an album cover in the 1970s.

Margreta Elkins recorded and performed with many of the world’s best-known singers and conductors: Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Tullio Serafin and Richard Bonynge, to name a few. She performed all over the world in a career that spanned several decades. Her obituary in The Australian stated that “she will be remembered as one of the most luminous and gracious Australian opera stars of the 20th century.”

Paul Hunt, a lover of opera, was immediately drawn to this dress. He observes that it is “a classic style that could be pulled out of a woman’s wardrobe again and again, and despite its age, still makes a very glamorous impact today.” This also reflects the kinds of garments that Paul creates for his own clients, which are inspired by vintage designs and pay great attention to couture-like details and finishes.

In his response, Paul has created three illustrations that reimagine the silhouette of Margreta’s original gown; two dress designs and one jumpsuit design. Paul chose to “update the feel of the dress by streamlining the shape to suit a modern woman who tends to look for something sleek, and does not like to be overwhelmed by too much fabric.”

Paul has stayed loyal to the feel of the original garment, but has also opted for lighter, more contemporary fabrics. In keeping with the metallic palette of Margreta’s dress, Paul has selected fabrics that still sparkle and shimmer, and has also mimicked the garment’s wide waistband, cross-over bodice and kimono style sleeves.

Paul says, “I wanted to create something on trend that nevertheless pays homage to the timeless style of Margreta’s gown.”

Margreta Elkins wearing the gown on an album cover, 1970s
Margreta Elkins wearing the gown on an album cover, 1970s
Margreta Elkins caftan gown by Danica of Double Bay
Margreta Elkins caftan gown by Danica of Double Bay The Darnell Collection
Paul Hunt works on his sketches in his studio, 2013
Paul Hunt works on his sketches in his studio, 2013The Fashion Archives
Paul Hunt's metallic themed fabric selections for his design, 2013
Paul Hunt's metallic themed fabric selections for his design, 2013The Fashion Archives

Published in , on December 3, 2013.