Inside the Collection

Romance in the Museum

Shoes decorated by Esme Timbery for Romance Was Born
Shoes decorated by Esme Timbery for Romance Was Born, Spring/Summer, 2009/2010

Platform shoes covered in lace, glitter and shells! Surely that’s a crime against fashion?

In this blog I’d like to introduce you to a rather spectacular pair of platform shoes recently acquired into the Museum’s collection. They were shown as part of Sydney design label, Romance Was Born’s Spring/Summer 2009/2010 collection at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week and are currently on display in Frock Stars: Inside Australian Fashion Week.

This pair of platform shoes are a wonderful example of a collaboration between fashion designers and an artist. In 2009, Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales of Romance Was Born collaborated with Bidjigal woman Esme Timbery from La Perouse in the creation of these fabulous shoes. Esme is a renowned shell artist. In 2005, she won first prize for her shell worked Sydney Harbour Bridge in the Parliament of New South Wales Art Prize. For this pair of dazzling shoes she has used shells, glitter and lace to create something slightly eccentric, but ever so stunning.

Timbery’s shell work and Romance Was Born’s fashion design aesthetic is complementary with the creation of rich surface textures. Their 2009 collection included an abundance of lace, glitter, sequins and beads used in the hair design, makeup, styling and collection pieces. It included everything from an ‘Iced-VoVo’ inspired biscuit dress and a one-shouldered crocheted dress made by Luke Sale’s mum, Janelle. Both of these outfits have also been acquired into the Museum’s collection. Romance Was Born’s style is whimsical and flamboyant – they don’t seek to follow or copy trends, but create something new, breath taking and awe-inspiring in their collections.

This was further confirmed during their Spring/Summer 2010/2011 show for Rosemount Australian Fashion Week. Based on dinosaurs and 16th Century Europe, Luke Sales said, ‘[It’s about] time travel and forming a portal between the Jurassic era and the birth of the Renaissance; dinosaurs coming back and the lower class rising up and being able to wear what they want’ (source: Marie Claire). Perhaps a curious combination, but I think that even if you don’t like contemporary fashion, you just have to appreciate the work of Romance Was Born for their sheer theatre and brilliance.

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