Opening with a hot pink mini-skirted Chanel ‘power suit’ from 1991, the Powerhouse Museum’s exhibition Nineties to now: fashion of the year retrospective displayed some of the most influential designs by 46 of the biggest names in Australian and international fashion. Bringing together for the first time the entire Grand Marnier/ Powerhouse Museum Fashion of the Year collection, the exhibition explores some of the key shifts and trends in contemporary ready-to wear fashion from 1991 to the present.
Sexy sophistication, eye-popping prints, sculpted silhouettes, sharp tailoring, tomboy styling, all-out glamour and a touch of attitude are features of the garments and accessories on display. Complementing the outfits were interviews with some of the people involved in making and marketing fashion in Australia including designers, photographers, stylists, fashion editors, buyers and retailers.
Drawing on the shrewd wit of fashion editors’ headlines, the exhibition was divided thematically into some of the key trends shaping contemporary fashion including: the emergence of underwear as outerwear and our love affair with the once ubiquitous slip dress; the influence of sportswear and subcultural style on high fashion which resulted in sports shoes and surfwear becoming everyday fashion; and the popularity of vintage dressing which allowed everyone to experience the joy of a one-off garment. Nineties to now also considered some of the dramatic shifts that have changed the face of contemporary fashion from the rise of international fashion conglomerates to the modern males expanding wardrobe.
An array of stunning outfits by Collette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa, Easton Pearson, sass & bide and Zimmermann highlighted the distinct design signatures of this ‘new generation’ of Australian designers, acknowledging their success on the global market. The spotlight also fell on some of the world’s influential designers with immaculate suits by Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford’s sophisticated designs for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano’s theatrical styles for Christian Dior, Prada’s understated elegance and Philip Treacy’s extraordinary hats. These are the designers whose shrewd observations of contemporary society allow them to translate the mood of the moment into our new wardrobe.