To mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the Dressing Australia – Museum of Costume has designed a rare and wonderful exhibition bringing Jane Austen to life in original fashion of the era. Be Persuaded features rare fashion, accessories and ephemera from the 18th century when Jane was born. Pieces such as these are rarely on display outside of major museums. Despite her fame, Jane Austen remains a mysterious figure in so many ways. This beautiful exhibition offers a glimpse into the world in which she existed, highlighting the symbolic role that fashion played in the Regency period and how this is reflected in Jane’s work.

Each perfectly curated outfit was accompanied by a snippet of Jane Austen history and matched with profiles of famous Austen characters and family members. The little boy in pastel blue was based on Jane’s nephew, James “Edward” Austen Leigh. His little outfit and lace Peter Pan collar were the highlight for me.

I loved being able to see the fabrics up close – particularly the stitch work and intricate details of the genuine empire line dresses, lace wedding attire, satin dancing shoes, capes, bonnets and beyond. The cape (below left) is actually adorned with a fringe of human hair, the ultimate (very creepy) fashion detail.

One of my favourite elements of the exhibition was the hand painted fashion illustrations that showed a chronological timeline of fashion from 1790 to 1830.

This special event will be on display at the Northbrook Pop-up Gallery, 1257 High Street, Malvern (behind Malvern Library) between 2 – 17 March 2018. The gallery is open Thursday to Saturday from 12pm to 5pm. Set behind the Stonnington History Centre, a beautiful Italianate house bordered by a lovely garden.


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