Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition

Miss Fisher's costume exhibition

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is a TV series and one of my favourites. I don't watch much TV, but Miss Fisher is a must! The series is based on books written by Kerry Greenwood and set in Melbourne in the 1920s. Miss Fisher is a wealthy, independent woman who manages to get tangled up in solving murder mysteries. The series is beautifully done, there have been 3 so far, it's a long wait between series! They are filmed in Melbourne, using historic homes and buildings as a backdrop. What also makes the series wonderful are the costumes. Earlier this year I was thrilled to see that an exhibition of the costumes was coming to Adelaide. The costume designer is Marion Boyce and she and her team do a terrific job with the costuming as that helps with setting the scene for the series.

So on a hot summer's morning, the ladies and I met at Ayers House (the location of the exhibition) and immersed ourselves in the world of Miss Fisher.

Ayers House is a National Trust property in the Adelaide city centre. It was the home of a former premier of South Australia, Henry Ayers. It's open for people to tour through and it's hosting the Miss Fisher costume exhibition until February 16th. A perfect location for it.

 Most of the exhibits were static but there were a few, like this one that were on a rotating disc, like a microwave! To the left the mannequin is posed like a murder victim, as this dress was worn by a victim.

Photography is allowed as long as you don't use your flash. That posed a problem as I didn't know how to turn mine off! Who reads instruction books?! Obviously not me! After some messing around success, flash off and I could photograph the exhibits.

The Ayers House setting was perfect, some of the exhibits had backdrops but many were just posed in the rooms.

On display weren't just dresses but also the accessories in cabinets.

A wedding dress, one of the exhibition staff told us, that when the costume exhibition was shown in Melbourne the wedding dress wasn't included as it would be a spoiler. This is the first time that it's been exhibited. (It's not Miss Fisher's wedding dress! She's still Miss Fisher)

The outfits covered both day and evening wear. Miss Fisher being an independent woman often wore pants, quite scandalous in the 1920s for a well bred woman to wear trousers.

The costumes are not just Miss Fisher's, the dress is her companion's Miss Dorothy who helps her with solving her mysteries. (Watson to her Holmes) Dorothy is much more conservative and her costumes are more buttoned up and frumpy.

Tennis anyone?
Most of the costumes were specially made, but the costume designer also searched for any vintage items that would work. The lemon (that's what the sign said, plain English me thought pale yellow!) jacket on the mannequin on the left is from the 1920s.

In one episode Miss Fisher goes undercover in a theatre and this is the costume she wears up on stage. On the screen behind the mannequin is this particular scene, with Essie Davies who plays Miss Fisher wearing the costume and dancing on stage.

Perfect setting for this costume, a kimono worn when going to have a bath. In one of the old bathrooms.

At the end of the exhibition there was a display of what the costume department's workshop contained.

I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition, what made it extra fun as well was there is a 'dress up' section. You and your friends (and we did!) could put on 1920s coats with enormous fake fur colours and sparkly 1920s dresses and take photos of each other. (Admittedly on a hot day the coats were a touch warm so we suffered for our fun!) 

For those who haven't seen Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries do, they're fun to watch, lots of witty dialogue. Non-Australians, it is available on Netflix, and Australians if the exhibition comes to a place near you, it's well worth going to see!


  1. Thanks Ophelia….I enjoyed reading about the exhibition at Ayers House.


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