Age of Elegance Exhibition

Ayers House Museum, Adelaide

In the past few years, the National Trust has held costume exhibitions in their property at Ayers House. The current exhibition is called "Age of Elegance" and it runs to the 29th of July.

I've seen the other costume exhibitions, the TV series Miss Fisher costumes and the movie The Dressmaker costumes.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

The Dressmaker

 Both exhibitions were wonderful and I had high expectations for this one. Marion Boyce who was the costume designer for both the Miss Fisher series and The Dressmaker movie put together this exhibition using the period costumes that are in the collection of the National Trust of South Australia. Having now seen the collection and the way it's been presented at Ayers House I would have to say that this particular exhibition is my favourite of the three.

The theme is 'fashionable living in Victorian Adelaide' and the outfits reflect the lifestyles of the wealthier Adelaide population and their leisure time activities.

We begin with going to the ball, Anne and Henry Ayers regularly entertained and held balls every September and October.

The thing that has made me like this exhibition over the other two is that these outfits are authentic, dating back to the Victorian and Edwardian years. The detail and the preservation of the outfits is just wonderful. (A helpful information sheet tells you about each outfit, there are no labels next to them, which I appreciated as it meant I spent more time looking at the costumes rather than reading labels.)

As you enter Ayers House, the Reception Hall has a wedding dress from 1897.
My reaction was the dress was beautiful, but my goodness the bride was tiny!

Although presented as young women out for a stroll, both of these two dresses were also worn by their original owners on their wedding day. The detail is amazing, the green dress in the foreground is from 1880 and the blue/grey dress from 1878.

The costumes aren't all dresses, there are children's clothes as well, two little sailor suits.

I just loved the attention to detail in creating a setting that put the outfits in context and used other items from the National Trust collection. Each pram contained a heritage doll dressed in baby's clothes.

Another wonderful tableau, afternoon tea with very realistic macarons and strawberries!

It wasn't all just the 'above stairs' costumes that were on show, but also the 'downstairs'.

The housekeeper with her keys hanging from her belt infront of the linen cupboard displaying some of the Trust's collection. Annoyingly this was behind glass so it makes for irritating reflections in the photo!

The butler in the servery next to the dining room.

The cook in the kitchen with the variety of kitchen tools which always makes for good conversation among groups of people going through the exhibition.

The exhibition continues upstairs, on the landing is a young girl.
Terrific detail in this dress, the ribbon around the waist and on her head is all handpainted, and there are tiny daffodils in the hem and around the neckline, all would have been handmade.

The nursery is set up with a display of children's outfits.

Upstairs there's an interactive room where people can create their own Victorian images, there are smaller items in display cases to look at as well.

The exhibition is wonderful and incredibly well done, I've only touched on a few of the costumes on display, the afternoon tea dresses are all really pretty, the South Australian National Trust does have an excellent collection and it's been lovely to see it displayed for everyone to enjoy.