A Victorian Silhouette

Step inside the world of 1850s fashion

Fashionistas will love A Victorian Silhouette, the fascinating new exhibition highlighting Victorian-era fashion trends and what they can tell us about the place of women in society during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901).

Fashion Print, 'Young Ladies Journal', 1889 (Gold Museum collection, 82.1368)

Fashion Print, Young Ladies Journal, 1889 (Gold Museum collection, 82.1368)

By displaying items from our extensive collection of original Victorian garments and accessories beside reproductions made by Sovereign Hill’s Costume Department, the exhibition highlights the craftsmanship required to re-create the period costume which is perhaps the most engaging aspect of Sovereign Hill’s goldrush world.

Exhibition highlights include a behind-the-scenes glimpse into life within Sovereign Hill’s Costume Department – an on-site, made-to-measure workroom where up to 2,000 historical costumes are researched, produced and repaired annually. Discover how costume brings Sovereign Hill’s goldfields characters to life, and see how you look in an 1850s-style bonnet created by the Friends of Sovereign Hill.

Costume department creating a toile from an original 1850s day dress (Photography: Chris Faithill)

Costume department creating a toile from an original 1850s day dress (Photography: Chris Faithill)

The exhibition also features an extended version of the short film, A Victorian Silhouette, a winner in the Australian Category of the 2018 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Fashion Film Awards. Peek behind the door of a Victorian boudoir to discover the secrets of the 1850s silhouette.

On display are rare collection items of clothing and accessories including an exquisite 1882 silk wedding dress worn by Amy Gibbs, daughter of John Gibbs, proprietor of Ballarat’s Charlie Napier Hotel. A set of wedding accessories circa 1890 features cream kid leather gloves and an orange blossom headpiece fashioned from wax. Worn by goldfields hotel-keeper Eliza Perrin, a polished cotton and wool blend 1860s day dress is another highlight, as is the 1867 ball gown of green silk with cream ribbon worn by Mary Fenton Whitelaw to a ball where she met her future husband.

A Victorian Silhouette will be open to the public every day between 18 May and 4 November from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm.

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