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Celebrating 100 years of fashion Stella M. Barber 237_Intro.indd 3

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Myer: Celebrating 100 years of fashion

Contents

Foreword ...........................................................................................................................................................6

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Introduction..................................................................................................................................................... 8 1900s – La Belle Époque ............................................................................................................................14 1910s – Orientalism, Aussie gold and an emporium .....................................................................18 1920s – The roaring twenties .................................................................................................................24 1930s – Deco to Depression ....................................................................................................................30 1940s – From war to wow! ......................................................................................................................38 1950s – The fabulous fifties.....................................................................................................................46 1960s – The stylish sixties .......................................................................................................................56 1970s – The shocking seventies............................................................................................................ 66 1980s – The eclectic eighties ..................................................................................................................76 1990s – From naff to normalcy............................................................................................................. 86 2000s – Myer into the millennium .................................................................................................... 96 Bibliography .................................................................................................................................................110 Acknowledgements ...................................................................................................................................111

Contents

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Myer: Celebrating 100 years of fashion

Foreword Carla Zampatti

OPPOSITE Early fashion parade, Myer Chadstone, c 1961.

M

yer has been an iconic part of Australia’s aesthetic landscape for as long as Australia has had fashion. The legendary department store, started by visionary retailer Sidney Myer and his brother in 1900, has not only witnessed the highs and lows of fashion hemlines for more than a century but has been a key element in the shaping of this country’s style. From Dior’s glamorous “New Look”, which Myer brought out to much fanfare in the late 1940s, to our current penchant for denim and ultra-feminine dresses, Myer has helped us define and redefine our look for decades. As the first store to bring international labels to Australia, Myer has since moved to a philosophy of supporting home-grown talent as much as overseas names, giving confidence to Australian designers so that they may be able to find their feet alongside the major players in the global market. This support has helped

many designers kick-start their careers, and because of it, Myer is still a store that new designers aspire to. Adventurous, creative and innovative, Myer was the first retailer to introduce the “store within a store” concept for designers who wanted a signature space. Always receptive to new ideas, Myer takes as much pride in being open to change as it does in its discerning choice of labels. And of course its friendliness, both to customers and designers, is famous. Fashion is often considered a barometer of the economy—when the economy is troubled people tend to turn to fashion—and so it is perhaps fitting that this book, Myer: Celebrating 100 years of fashion—comes out now. Fashion lifts us up. It makes us feel confident, glamorous, gorgeous. When everything else is uncertain, it continues to offer us self-assurance. There is nothing more exhilarating, good times or bad, than buying a new outfit. Thank goodness Myer has been there to help us decide. It is more than a store. It is an icon.

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Introduction

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Myer: Celebrating 100 years of fashion

Introduction “The Model Salon of the Myer Emporium Limited is fast becoming to Melbourne what Paris is to the world—the centre for authentic fashion.” Myer spokesperson, 1927

OPPOSITE Leona Edmiston Eloise dress from Spring/Summer 2005 collection. Image by courtesy of Leona Edmiston.

M

yer has played a fundamental role in the history of fashion in Australia since 1900. When Sidney Myer first opened his small store in Bendigo, in country Victoria, he did so with intent to offer more to his customers than any other trader had offered them. For in those times, at the turn of the 20th century, retailers were traders, often pedalling their wares from house to house. The concept of seeing goods openly displayed for sale in stores was unheard of at that time. It was Sidney Myer who revolutionised the way women were tempted into stores to buy the items offered for sale. It was also Sidney Myer who first introduced the concept of “sales”—discounted merchandise—to his captivated customers, always naturally open to a bargain. By the end of the first decade of the 1900s, Sidney Myer offered all the goods required by fashionable women, including the most essential

garments, trimmings and laces required to make up the all important bridal trousseau. From Bendigo, Sidney Myer moved into Melbourne and in June 1911, bought the old-established drapery business of Wright & Neil in Bourke Street. Soon afterwards, work was begun on the creation of the grand Myer Emporium. The new Myer Bourke Street opened in August 1914, quickly followed by a nearby factory where the tens of thousands of items to be stocked in the great Myer store were manufactured, by local people, but often to international designs. In 1920, the Myer Emporium (London) Limited was incorporated and a New York buying office established. This, and the London office, was used as a base to source designs and merchandise from around the world. Shortly afterwards, Myer opened its Model Salon, where the latest designer fashions were on sale. In 1927 the firm was able to declare, “The Model Salon of the Myer

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Emporium Limited is fast becoming to Melbourne what Paris is to the world— the centre for authentic fashion.” The following year Myer expanded into South Australia, purchasing another trusted department store, James Marshall, and the Myer Emporium (South Australia) came into being under the able leadership of Sidney Myer’s nephew Norman Myer—another man with a great eye for style who clearly understood what fashionable Australian women wanted. Meanwhile, with Australia in the depths of the Great Depression, Myer inaugurated “Made in Australia Week”, giving preference to Australian-made goods to stimulate spending and employment. Despite the ravages of economic depression and the death of Sidney Myer in 1934, Myer continued to flourish. New fashions were featured in lavish parades in the newly completed Myer Mural Hall, which would quickly become the elegant venue for fashion parades showing collections from designers throughout the world.

Myer’s range of international designs, first introduced in the 1920s, was increasingly featured in the most popular women’s magazines. By 1933, Myer, always ahead of the time, had become conscious of a new market and offered a separate range for “the younger set” and opened a Misses Shop on the fourth floor of the Bourke Street store. The outbreak of World War II changed to some degree the extent of Myer’s fashion offering. However, Myer continued to offer the latest fashions and held stunning fashion parades throughout this time. In 1947, Christian Dior was the name on everyone’s lips and he stunned all with his first collection, the “Corolle” line. Dubbed the “New Look”, Dior featured tiny, high waists, voluminously full skirts and prominent bust-lines that would change the direction of fashion completely. Dior held his first Australian fashion parade during this time. One of the most significant innovations of the post-war period saw

ABOVE Models at the launch of the Myer Lounge during Rosemont Australian Fashion Week in 2007.

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“Fashion anticipates, and elegance is a state of mind ... a mirror of the time in which we live, a translation of the future and should never be static.” Oleg Cassini, fashion designer

Myer bringing these glamorous French fashion parades to Australia and its couture-starved customers. The 1950s marked the heyday of Myer as a fashion leader. In 1955 the Melbourne Myer Model workroom won the prestigious Gown of the Year. Also in this decade, Myer’s stylish Antoine Salon and Magg Boutique offered all that the modern sophisticate could need. In 1956, Myer held special Olympic Games fashion parades and in 1957 Myer brought the first all-Dior fashion parade to Australia. Another Myer highlight of the 1950s saw the opening of its glamorous Chandelier Room in 1958—the perfect setting in which to show off its new range of international designer fashions. The 1960s saw the opening of Chadstone, today known as “The Fashion Capital”. Myer was the lead tenant in this massive new shopping centre. More regional Myer stores quickly opened throughout Australia, the brainchild of Sidney Myer’s son, Ken Myer. These shopping centres provided more and more customers with access to the full range of Myer fashions. In September 1962, the first collection of Australian-made couturierinspired fashions were shown at the Myer Mural Hall. More parades ensued and culminated that decade in a unique showing of the Italian Fashion collection sponsored by the Italian Ministry for Foreign Trade. In 1969, for the first time, Myer celebrated Myer America Week with innovative fashions from that continent and shown at the Mural Hall

in the presence of the American Consul General. By this time, Myer Miss Melbourne was well established and today is “the” destination for young fashion. Throughout the 1970s, Myer continued to be a fashion leader and in 1970 opened Myer British Week, once more in the Mural Hall. Later the same year, a Christian Dior Fashion show saw customers flocking to Myer to catch a glimpse of the latest creations of this enduring fashion house. The end of the 1970s was marked by the presentation of the Zandra Rhodes Fashion Extravaganza, a showing of the zany designer’s breathtaking fashions. The 1980s as a fashion decade has both appalled and been applauded. It saw women fitted out in the power padding styles that marked the rise of the corporate woman. Yet at the same time the softer influence of Britain’s Lady Diana was seen in the frilled blouses and pastels prevalent in that era. The fitness craze found its way into fashion and workout gear became causal wear. Myer stocked all the fashions marked by these trends. In 1981, Myer took over the Country Road fashion house and developed the idea of fashion concept stores within its own stores. This decade also saw the introduction of the popular petites range, developed under the leadership of one of Sidney Myer’s grandsons. However the takeover of the Myer Emporium by G.J. Coles and Coy and subsequent formation of Coles Myer Ltd, saw Myer taking something of a backwards step, fashion-wise, as its new

owners tried to come to terms with a very different form of retailing. By the 1990s Myer stores comprised both the original Myer and the NSW Grace Bros group that had been acquired in the 1980s. Boans in WA was also re-branded as Myer. Australian designers were well represented in Myer, with Lisa Ho, Rodney Clark, Anthea Crawford, Perri Cutten, Carla Zampatti, Harry Who and Trent Nathan providing the most sought after fashion stories. In 2002, Canadian, Dawn Robertson, became Myer’s first female managing director and brought in a number of marketing initiatives that helped re-energise Myer’s fashion divisions. Cue, a partner with Myer since the 1960s, was an essential part of Myer’s fashion renaissance. David Lawrence, Sportscraft and Jigsaw were also important labels for Myer during the late 1990s and into this decade, and all of them had begun an association with Myer in earlier decades. Today, Myer is owned by a consortium led by the TPG and the Myer family and is more than ever focused on offering the very best in fashion to its loyal customers. Jennifer Hawkins, the “Face of Myer” has been a fine ambassador for the business and has been recently supported by Amy Fromm, the “Face of Myer Miss Shop” and Rebecca Twigley, the “Face of Myer Racing”. Myer has been the “Face of Fashion” for more than 100 years and this book, a collection of stunning fashion images, celebrates the plethora of Myer fashion milestones that justify this proud claim.

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Jennifer Hawkins The meteoric rise to success of Jennifer Hawkins, the “Face of Myer”, has inspired young women Australia wide. Jennifer Hawkins was born in 1984 in Holmesville, Newcastle. She went to school at Barnsley Primary School, followed by West Wallsend High School and was a bright and dedicated student, getting top marks in many subjects. She began dancing at the age of five and had a life-long ambition to become a dancer. In 2001 she won a national dance competition that had been adjudicated by a panel of judges, the audience and her peers. A few years later she was appearing on national television as a contestant in Dancing With The Stars. Hawkins worked as a legal secretary while continuing to dance and enter

modelling competitions. She also joined the cheer squad of the Newcastle Knights Rugby League team, and soon became the NRL’s “Cheergirl of the Year”. This led to her being featured on the cover of the Big League magazine and following this, she made appearances at fashion shows and was crowned Newcastle’s “Miss Surfest”. Modelling commissions followed and in 2004 she won the coveted title of “Miss Universe”, chosen above 86 other contestants and impressing judges including Donald Trump with her natural beauty. She was nicknamed “the thunder from down under” by the pageant’s host, Billy Bush. Hawkins was the first Australian to win the pageant since Perth’s Kerry Anne Wells back in 1972. In mid-2006, Jennifer Hawkins had been chosen to model for an

advertisement for Myer. Her broad appeal and the customer response to the campaign led to her being signed as the “Face of Myer” under a fouryear deal in January 2007. Hawkins and her management communicated to Myer that she wanted to share in the new direction of the business and so her contract recognised her active participation in strategic business decisions through shared ownership. Jennifer Hawkins later said: “ … Because of my shared ownership in Myer, I feel a real connection to the company. I am proud to be the ‘Face of Myer’, it means more to me than just another modelling assignment and I value my work with Bill and Bernie and his team immensely, and feel I am making a real contribution in helping to rebuild Myer ... ”

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OPPOSITE Jennifer Hawkins in one of her own creations, from the

ABOVE JAG Spring/Summer 2008 — on a road trip.

new COZI swimwear range she has designed exclusively for MYER.

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Bibliography Books and journals Barber, Stella, Sidney Myer, A Life, A Legacy, Hardie Grant, Melbourne, 2005. Barber, Stella, Your Store Myer, Focus Publishing, Sydney, 2008. Baudot, Francois, Fashion: The Twentieth Century, Universe Publishing, New York, 1999. Bendigo Art Gallery (curator Meredith Rowe), Unwrapped: Australian fashion and textile design exhibition catalogue, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2003.

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Bigelow, Marybelle, Fashion in History, Burgess Publishing, Minnesota, 1979. Flower, Cedric, Clothes in Australia: A Pictorial History 1788–1980s, Kangaroo Press, Kenturst, 1984. Hall, Carolyn, The Forties in Vogue, Octopus Books, 1985. Hollander, Anne, Sex and Suits, the Evolution of Modern Dress, Kodansha International, New York, 1994. Joel, Alexandra, Parade: The story of fashion in Australia, Harper Collins, Sydney, 1998. Martin, Richard and Koda, Harold, Haute Couture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996. Maynard, Margaret, Out of Line, Australian Women and Style, University of NSW Press, Sydney, 2001. Mendes, Valerie and De La Hay, Amy, 20th Century Fashion, Thames and Hudson, London, 1999.

Mode, 1980s–1990s. Mulvagh, Jane, Vogue History of 20th Century Fashion,Viking, London, 1988.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, various years. The Home, 1930s. Vogue Australia, 1958 to present.

Peacock, John, The Complete Fashion Sourcebook, Thames and Hudson, London, 1997.

Weidenhofer, Maggie, Colonial Ladies, Currey O’Neil, 1985.

Peacock, John, 20th Century Fashion, Thames and Hudson, London, 1993

Whiteman, Von, Looking Back at Fashion 1901–1939, EP Publishing, Yorkshire, 1978.

Peacock, John, Fashion Since 1900, The Complete Sourcebook, Thames and Hudson, London, 1993 (revised 2007).

Archival collections

Peacock, John, Fashion Sourcebooks, 1920s–1960s, Thames and Hudson, London, 1997. Permezel, Barbara, A Crucible of Creative Fashion Talent: Australian Gown of the Year 1953–1993, Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, Melbourne, 1993. Phillips, Kathy, The Vogue Book of Blondes, Pavilion Books, London, 1999. Richards, Melissa, Chanel; Key Collections, Hamlyn, 2000. Steele, Valerie, Fify Years of Fashion: New Look to Now, Yale U.P., New Haven, 1997. Stevenson, Pauline, Bridal Fashions, Ian Allan, London, 1978. Studio Collections, 1980s–1990s. Table Talk, 1930s. The Age, various years.

Author’s own archival collection Coles Myer Ltd collection, State Library of Victoria Judy Morrison fashion collection, privately held Myer family collection, privately held RMIT Frances Bourke Textiles Archive and Museum

Web sites www.antheacrawford.com.au www.carlazampatti.com.au www.eastonpearson.com www.jennybannister.com.au www.fashion-era.com www.fashionreview.com.au www.femail.com.au http://insite.neimanmarcus.com/ nminsite/videos/index.html www.istylefashion.com www.milesago.com www.perricutten.com.au www.saba.com.au www.sassandbide.com www.tonimaticevski.com www.vogue.com.au www.whatswhat.com.au

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Acknowledgements This is my second book for Myer in the last 12 months, again I am grateful to Focus and Myer Managing Director, Bernie Brookes for giving me the opportunity to work on a book on one of my favourite subjects—fashion! It has been a whirlwind time trying to source the hundreds of images reproduced in this book in some 12 weeks. I could not have reached yet another crazy deadline without the help of many people and I want to thank you all. Firstly, thanks to my research assistant, Sandra Duncanson, new to history, but skilled in a myriad of other areas. Thanks SD, we made it! At Focus I have worked most closely with Senior Designer Jason Cupitt, who has worked wonders with the material in such a short time and has become a great friend. Once more Jason, it has been an enormous and rare pleasure working with you. Jasmine Salem has been a fabulous, efficient editor and her sense of humour and generous support have made my job so much easier, thank you Jasmine! Thanks also to Jaqui Lane, Peter Hock, Shirley Kirkwood at Focus.

At Myer I am grateful for the support of Laura Agosta, Tanina Burrone, Cathy Campbell, Maree Cunningham, Anne Despain, Darren Ferguson, Sharlene Findlay, Kate Jennings, Marian Milne, Angela Pezzimenti, Claire Thunder and Maggie Vasiliadis, I also want to make special mention of Myer’s Judy Morrison, who arranged to have several boxes of material sent to me. On opening them I found a Pandora’s box of fabulous original fashion magazines dating to the 1970s and her own collection of fashion related research. Probably a quarter of the images in this book are derived from Judy’s collections, thank you for trusting me with this wonderful material Judy! I am listing, in alphabetical order, all the people outside of Focus and Myer to whom I owe my gratitude. Thank you to: Kaye Ashton (RMIT Frances Bourke Textiles Museum), Antoinette Azzopardi, Tina Barber, Kirsty Brockhoff (Cue), Lucas Dawson, Jeremy Ducker (Leona Edmiston), Leona Edmiston, Jaqui Fernandes, Di Foster (Stonnington History Centre), Greg Gerrand (State

Library of Victoria), Delwyn Hewitt, Brad Hick, Marie Humphreys, Deborah Hutton, Brooke King (the Apparel Group), Stephanie Leetham (Cue), Rod Levis (Cue), Jo Rickard, Sue Ryan (RMIT Frances Bourke Textiles Museum), Stephen Shelmerdine, Kate Sylvester, PrueEllen Thomas (Leona Edmiston), Sylvia Walsh (RMIT), Pamela Warrender, Karen Webster and Patricia Wilson. Finally, I want to make special thanks to my husband, photographer, Mark Wilson, who digitised all of the images for the book and prepared them for publication and my sons, James and Kieren, thank you for understanding again as I worked much of each weekend to get the book finished on time. I love you very much.

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Stella M. Barber September 2008

Picture credits The author and publisher are grateful for the generous help provided by the State Library of Victoria in facilitating access to the Coles Myer collection. Greg Gerrand and Kevin Molloy went out of their way to ensure the images were accessible to meet our very tight deadline. Thank you to you both and to the staff of the Special Collections reading room. Cover: The estate of Athol Smith Anthea Crawford 96; Athol Smith 52 right; Author’s collection 54 left; Coles Myer collection/State Library of Victoria

4, 6, 16, 26 right, 33, 34, 37 bottom middle, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 left, 53, 54 right, 55, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 65, 68, 70, 71, 73 top, 74, 75, 82 left; Cue Clothing Company 89, 94, 102; Deborah Hutton 86; Follow Me 80, 81 right, 84 above right; Getty Images 69 bottom; Gosta Peterson by courtesy of Corbis.com 56; JAG 13; Judy Morrison 17 bottom; Leona Edmiston 8; Lucas Dawson 98, 100, 101, 107; Mark Wilson 111; Mark Wilson Photography 91; Mode 73 bottom right; Myer 2, 10, 12, 18, 20 left, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 35, 36, 63, 69 top, 76,

78, 81 left, 83 left, 84 above left, 85, 88, 92, 99, 108, 109; Myer fashion collection 29, 30; National Library of Australia 20 right; Sam D’Agostino 99 right, 103, 106; State Library of Queensland 17 top left, State Library of South Australia 14; State Library of Victoria picture collection 17 right; Stonnington History Centre 64; Table Top 32, 37 left, top middle, right; The Apparel Group 72; The Discovery Group 79 bottom; The Home 26 left, Vogue Australia 66, 73 bottom left, 79 top, 82 right, 83 right, 90, 93, 95; Webster Holdings 104, 105.

Acknowledgements

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Myer celebrating 100 years of fashion  

Stella m. Barber