Lifestyle

What not to wear to the 2024 Met Gala


“It was brought by Janet Moran and worn for her 1939 wedding to Harold Carter at the Wesley Church in Lonsdale St,” Sommerville says. “It was occasionally worn again, for supervised dress-ups, but was donated to the gallery by her granddaughter in 1993.”

Having never been exhibited, the dress was examined by the predecessor of textiles conservator Skye Firth, and proceeded to fall apart in her hands.

“It was made with weighted silk,” Firth says. “For a time silk was sold by weight and the fibre would be soaked in heavy metals. It fetched higher prices, but they quickly discovered it didn’t last as long.”

Since starting at the NGV in 2017, the dress has been Firth’s pet project, in between blockbuster exhibitions. Through restitching and creating a custom backing in duchess silk, the dress should be ready to go on show next year, after the Met Gala.

“There has been a lot of research to bring this sleeping princess back to life,” Somerville says.

At Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum another Sleeping Beauty is being given a consensual kiss of life, after Leo Schofield spotted it for the 1001 Remarkable Objects exhibition, currently on display in Ultimo.

Dress, decorated with tram tickets. Cotton, paper. Made by Effie Bradshaw, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1906. Powerhouse Museum.

Dress, decorated with tram tickets. Cotton, paper. Made by Effie Bradshaw, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1906. Powerhouse Museum.

“It’s a dress made of tram tickets that was first worn by its maker Effie Bradshaw and worn to a Masonic masquerade ball in 1906,” says curator Glynis Jones. “The ticket are held together with tacking stitches and the printed paper could fade if the dress was on show for a long exhibition.”

It’s difficult to look at Bradshaw’s dress without thinking of Oscar-winning costume designer Lizzie Gardiner’s American Express Gold Card dress from the Academy Awards in 1995, where she won for her work on The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Bradshaw’s pre-Opal card creation is unlikely to make it to the red carpet. Jones won’t be answering any calls about the dress, even if Rihanna or Kardashian is on the other end of the line. Some beauties should be allowed to sleep at home.

“This is where it’s meant to be,” Jones says. “The power for those electric trams came from within the Powerhouse before it was a museum. It’s a full circle moment.”

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