Fashion pageant steaming along

Thanks to Ashlea Road Boutique museum volunteers can steam the historical garments much quicker

Thanks to Ashlea Road Boutique museum volunteers can steam the historical garments much quicker

Manning Valley Historical Society volunteers are hard at work preparing for this Saturday's fashion pageant.

After an exhaustive sort through all the historical garments held at the Wingham Museum, the final selection has been made. With so many items to prepare the volunteers called on local fashion store Ashlea Road Boutique to borrow a hand steamer to make the job a little quicker.

Hang Fire Disco will be playing during the parade to be held at the Wingham Memorial Services Club auditorium.

 'A Glimpse into the Past' will celebrate 100 years of fashion. Items that have been carefully selected will be on display on Saturday May 24 at 2pm. Tickets cost $20 and are available from the Manning Valley Historical Society or the Wingham Services Memorial Club. Afternoon tea will also be served.

The fashion pageant is part of the 50 year celebrations of the Manning Valley Historical Society. A collection of historical photos are also on display at the Manning Spiritual Wellness Centre in Farquhar Street.

April 23

Collating Fashion History

LOCAL fashion from the past is being carefully chosen for an upcoming pageant of fashion to be held in May. The extensive collection is housed at the Wingham Museum of the Manning Valley Historical Society. Local fashion identities Lyn Catt and Jo Meldrum have brought their extensive experience in the fashion industry to the museum and are joining with the MVHS volunteers to make the selection.

A 'little black dress' from 1945 will be part of the collection of historical gowns in Wingham.

A 'little black dress' from 1945 will be part of the collection of historical gowns in Wingham.

The wedding gown and night dress of Alice May Cooper from 1906 will be on display at the pageant of fashion in Wingham.

The wedding gown and night dress of Alice May Cooper from 1906 will be on display at the pageant of fashion in Wingham.

Lyn Catt (left) and Kim Armstrong at the Wingham museum with a grey linen day dress from 1901.

Lyn Catt (left) and Kim Armstrong at the Wingham museum with a grey linen day dress from 1901.

It's a difficult task and the women are aware they are collating history. They are also respectful of the emotional attachment that families hold for items they have donated to the museum. "We know of some people who will be travelling up from Newcastle to see the clothing donated by their families," said Lyn.

Most of the clothing housed at the museum has a strong local connection such as a grey linen day dress from 1901. The dress is thought to be Mrs Frances Hook's mother's clothes, Frances Hooke herself a Summerville a family with strong ties to the area.

The historical collection of garments has been collected for 'A Glimpse into the Past' to celebrate 100 years of fashion. Items that have been carefully selected will be on display in the Wingham Services Club auditorium on Saturday May 24. Tickets cost $20 and are available from the Manning Valley Historical Society or at the Wingham Services Club. Afternoon tea will also be served.

Reflecting on the past

Women of the Manning Valley in the late 1800s and early 1900s most likely owned fewer garments than women of today. But the often simple and delicate items are a testament to a time when quality materials and careful stitching ensured longevity of the piece.

As Manning Valley Historical Society president Barbara Walters and her team of helpers collate garments for the upcoming fashion pageant they have been reflecting on the difficulty local women would have faced 100 years ago. “Many would have been remembering their homelands and what they left behind,” said Barbara. “The sewing machine would have been important and there would have been a strong reliance on catalogues for fashion inspiration.”

Material would have been ordered from such places as Cochrane's Emporium which opened in Wingham in 1884. Cochrane employed salesmen who circulated around the district with four carts so women on rural properties may have been able to order their supplies that way. There would have been a heavy reliance on ships to bring fabrics and clothing into the district. Unfortunately shipping disasters may very well have been responsible for entire wardrobes being destroyed which would have been a huge loss to people.

Old photos housed at the museum reveal well-dressed ladies in Wingham's past. The type and quantity of clothing owned would have depended on the prosperity of the family. It was common for many women to only own one good dress. “This dress would have been worn for special occasions and to church,” said Barbara. Afternoon tea was a popular time to dress in a fine dress and accessories.

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