Fashion Group International recently presented Two Centuries of Fabulous Footwear, at the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney to celebrate antique, vintage and modern shoes. The exhibition ran from 2- 15th April, and on show were pairs of shoes from design houses such as Versace, Maud Frizon ,Stephane Kelian and Bruno Magli.
Charlotte Smith owner of the Darnell Collection of vintage garments and accessories lent 57 exhibits. The Darnell Collection was stablished by Mrs Doris Darnell in the 1940s, the grandmother of the presnet owner. Mrs Darnell was an American Quaker who became an avid collector and preserver of fine garments and accessories. The Darnell Collection consists of over 3,500 pieces including 1000 garments, 1000 accessories, 300 handbags, 100s of undergarments, 100 pairs of shoes, among other items. It spans the late 18th century to the end of the 20th century and includes numerous wedding dresses, Edwardian whites, a number of rare flapper dresses and a selection of 19th century Quaker garments. International designers include Lucille, Madeline Vionnet, Jean Patou, Christian Dior, and Thierry Mugler, to name a few. Mrs Darnell was committed to allow as many people as she could to see her collection and organised travelling exhibitions, giving presentations to museum and community groups, service clubs and schools. After leaving the collection to her grand-daughter in 2003, Charlotte continues the tradition. Each year the collection gets bigger with people leaving their own collections to the Darnell. So far there have been over 250 bequests from 17 countries. The Darnell Collection arrived in Australia in February 2004 with the financial assistance of the Allen Hilles Foundation (USA). Currently there are plans to house the collection and to establish a museum that will become the largest repository of designer and vintage clothing in Australia. On display at the QMV were black silk ankle boots circa 1790 and a pair of 1920s silver lame flapper shoes custom made for the Chicago socialite Mary Vaughan Williams. There was also a rare traveling shoebox from the 1930s complete with six tiny size 3 shoes.
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