Kylie’s ‘Folies’ Live On …

Kylie Minogue on stage during her 2011 Les Folies/ Aphrodite Tour. Costume designed by Dolce & Gabbana and donated to Arts Centre Melbourne's Performing Arts Collection earlier 2015. Photographer unknown.
Kylie Minogue on stage during her 2011 Les Folies/ Aphrodite Tour. Costume designed by Dolce & Gabbana and donated to Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection earlier 2015. Photographer unknown.

We all love a costume that speaks to the diva within and no-one does it better than Kylie. But what happens to those elaborate stage costumes once the lights go down and the road cases leave the stadium? Enter the textiles conservator. Costumes such as this black-feathered full-length gown designed by Dolce & Gabbana for Kylie Minogue’s 2011 Les Folies/ Aphrodite Tour are designed to dazzle the eye and to withstand the rigours of nightly performance. They are not designed with long-term storage in mind. Lay them flat and the elaborate boning under the skirt will warp, hang it and the skirt will lose its shape as gravity kicks in.

The solution? A custom-made aluminium pannier.

Conservator making a custom-made aluminium pannier. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection
Conservator making a custom-made aluminium pannier. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection

The pannier is placed over the all-important gold bodysuit around which the entire suite of costumes was designed …

Custom-made aluminium pannier. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection.
The pannier is placed over the body suit. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection.

Et voilà!

Skirt with attached black vinyl bodice is placed over the bodysuit and pannier. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection
Skirt with attached black vinyl bodice is placed over the bodysuit and pannier. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection

Now Showing – Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment & The Australian Experience

Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment & the Australian Experience, Gallery I, Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Carla Gottgens
Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment & the Australian Experience, Gallery 1, Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Carla Gottgens

What a great response we have had to our new exhibition, Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment & the Australian Experience! Thank you to everyone who has already been in and taken the time to let us know how much you have enjoyed it.

As part of the national commemoration of the Anzac Centenary we were very keen to explore the often overlooked role played by the performing arts in the lives of Australians during times of war, both on the home front and in the field. Theatres of War explores the power of performance in bringing people together, lifting spirits and offering a form of escapism during times of great adversity.

In researching the exhibition within our own rich Performing Arts Collection we were struck by how many well-known Australian performers had carried out relatively unknown war work. Performers such as Dame Nellie Melba who received her DBE for her fundraising activities during the First World War and Norman Hetherington (aka Mr Squiggle) who entertained his fellow soldiers in the jungles of New Guinea during the Second World War. More recently singers Kylie Minogue and Doc Neeson, and comedians Hamish and Andy have provided a morale-boosting connection to home for soldiers on active service.

Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment and the Australian Experience, Gallery 1, Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Carla Gottgens.
Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment and the Australian Experience, Gallery 1, Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Carla Gottgens.

Many of these performers have generously lent material for inclusion in the exhibition and we are thrilled to have on display the famous piano used by Australian prisoners in the Changi prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War, courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Instruments used by prisoners in Changi POW camp during World War II. Instruments kindly lent by the Australian War Memorial. Photo by Carla Gottgens
Instruments used by prisoners in Changi POW camp during World War II. Instruments kindly lent by the Australian War Memorial. Photo by Carla Gottgens

The exhibition continues until 20 September 2015.

Costume Gallery – All That Glitters

This gallery showcases some of the wonderful costumes in our Performing Arts Collection. You can currently see these costumes (and many, many more!) on display at Arts Centre Melbourne in the free exhibition, All That Glitters. This exhibition celebrates the vision behind these costumes, the creativity and skill of those who created them, and the show-stopping performances that brought them to life.

All That Glitters will be on display in Gallery 1 until 23 February 2014.

All That Glitters: Showcasing costumes from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection

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Gown worn by Jill Perryman as Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly!, The Gordon Frost Organisation, 1995. Designed by Tim Goodchild. Gift of John Frost, 2001. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection. Photograph by Jeremy Dillon.

All That Glitters showcases some of the most breath-taking examples of stage costume from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection. The exhibition celebrates the vision behind these costumes, the creativity and skill of those who created them, and the show-stopping performances that brought them to life.

Costume has played an important role in the development of the Performing Arts Collection since its inception in 1977. The spectacular stage wardrobes of Dame Nellie Melba, Dame Edna Everage and Kylie Minogue lie at the heart of this collection and epitomise the drama, exuberance and glamour of theatrical costume at its most dazzling. These stars of the stage, along with magnificent gowns recently donated by Opera Australia and a number of newly conserved pieces from the hit musicals of the 1950s and 1960s have been the inspiration for All That Glitters.

The exhibition draws together a rich selection of costumes by leading Australian designers including Hugh Colman, Roger Kirk, John Truscott, Kenneth Rowell and Kristian Fredrikson. Many of the costumes have been created to form the centre piece for some of the most lavish productions ever staged by companies such as The Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare and Opera Australia.

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Cloak worn by Nellie Melba as Elsa in Lohengrin, c. 1891. Designed by Jean-Phillipe Worth
Gift of Pamela, Lady Vestey, 1977. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection. Photograph by Jeremy Dillon.

Each costume has its own unique story and All That Glitters retells these stories with photographic images of the costumes in performance, capturing some of Australia’s most charismatic performers in action. Large scale productions from the world of opera create a major focus point for the exhibition with three extraordinary gowns created specifically for Dame Joan Sutherland.

Stunning costume jewellery will offer a historic glimpse at the captivating stage persona of performers such as Nellie Stewart, Queenie Paul and Esme Levante whose appearances lit up the Australian stage in the first half of the 20th Century.  Also featured are treasured pieces from a famously extravagant production of Aida first seen in Australia in the 1930s.

All That Glitters presents a dramatic display of treasured costumes from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection, which are unique to Australia’s performing arts heritage.

All That Glitters
Gallery I November 16 – February 23, 2014
FREE

 

Visit us backstage at Dressing Room 34

Barbara Angell admiring her ‘dressing table’ in Dressing Room 34, Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne.

This weekend we have a special treat in store for those of you in Melbourne. As part of the New Hamer Hall opening celebrations and Open House Melbourne we have curated a special display offering a rare opportunity for you to experience the behind-the-scenes magic of the performer’s dressing room.

Dressing Room 34 features items from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection and pays tribute to a diverse cast from a variety of eras and performing arts styles. Featured performers are rope spinner and juggler Tex Glanville, vaudeville singer and dancer Barbara Angell, operetta star Suzanne Steele, 1980s band Split Enz, contemporary dance duo Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon, and much-loved special guest Ossie Ostrich.

Also keep an eye out for costume items worn by icons of the Australian stage: Dame Edna Everage, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, Peter Allen and Reg Livermore.

Dressing Room 34 will be open Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 July from 10am to 4pm. Further details here. Come one, come all!

Celebrating Edna and Kylie

‘Celebrating Edna and Kylie’, featuring highlights from the Dame Edna Everage and Kylie Minogue costume collections at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection.

The countdown is on as we race towards the opening of the New Hamer Hall and what better way to kick off the party than with a celebration of two of Australia’s most successful popular entertainers: Dame Edna Everage and Kylie Minogue.

Dame Edna’s Last Hurrah

Mrs Norman Everage first appeared on stage as the ‘Olympic Hostess’ at Melbourne University’s Union Theatre in 1955. She wore no make-up, wig or glasses and her clothes were second-hand cast offs. From these humble beginnings the upwardly-mobile housewife from 36 Humouresque Street, Moonee Ponds took on the world. In 1974 she accepted the title of Dame in 1974 before passing through megastardom in the 1990s on her way to her current gigastardom.

Dame Edna’s fearless social commentary (and her ability to parody those she professes to admire) may have endeared her to generations of fans but it is her visually striking comic wardrobe that has always been her secret weapon. Since 1981, Dame Edna’s manager, Barry Humphries has been donating costumes to the Performing Arts Collection helping us in our quest to document the rise and rise of Edna. The collection now includes over 500 costumes and accessories including many show-stopping gowns designed by Bill Goodwin and Stephen Adnitt.

This year Dame Edna is celebrating her Diamante Jubilee with one final World Tour. While not officially retiring she says she is now ready to ‘kick off her heels and tend to her gladiolas’, although I suspect she will miss the limelight and adulatation.

Kylie25

In 1987, at the height of her ‘Neighbours’ fame, Kylie Minogue released a catchy cover version of the 1960s pop tune, ‘Locomotion’. The song would go on to become the highest selling single of the decade in Australia and buoyed by its success Kylie relocated to London. The rest, as they say, is history.

This year Kylie Minogue – recording artist, actress, style icon and consummate live performer – celebrates 25 years in showbiz, a remarkable milestone in a notoriously fickle industry. The accolades she has received throughout her career are many and include worldwide record sales of over 68 million, ARIA Awards, Brit Awards and in 2004 a coveted Grammy Award. In 2008 she was awarded an OBE for ‘services to music’ and in 2011 she was inducted by the Australian Recording Industry Association into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

In 1991 Kylie donated a single costume from her 1990 ‘Enjoy Yourself’ tour to the Performing Arts Collection. Today, the Kylie Minogue Collection numbers almost 300 costumes charting her stylistic evolution from Girl-Next-Door to Sultry Showgirl in collaboration with high-profile international designers including Dolce & Gabanna, Chanel, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.

So come in and join us in honouring two very special Australians. Celebrating Edna and Kylie is now showing in Smorgon Family Plaza, Theatres Building of Arts Centre Melbourne, open all day until late.