Fashion in the National Archives
The National Archives’ extensive photographic collection allows us to take a glimpse at Australian society during the revolutionary period spanning the 1960s and 1970s.
Fashion by Pierre Cardin at the Canberra Theatre Centre (1967)National Archives of Australia
Young Australian designers have an eye on exports (1971)National Archives of Australia
This was an era marked by sweeping social change in Australia. The post-World War II baby boom had created millions of teenagers. Many became actively involved in the fashion, fads, music, art and politics of the period.
A couple walking to a jazz festival with musical instruments (1974)National Archives of Australia
Racegoers at the Melbourne Cup (1974)National Archives of Australia
Musical tastes and styles of dress were especially linked. The 1960s London pop scene ushered in an attitude of ‘anything goes’ and this transformed the shape of clothes. Colour played a big role in defining the new look. The pastel palette and formal fashion of the 1950s gave way to a more casual look with bright, bold colours, checks, prints and geometric patterns.
Shades of pink: fashions for a sunny winter's day (1966/1971)National Archives of Australia
House of Osti fashions (1975)National Archives of Australia
The fashion boutique emerged in the 1960s, bringing with it mass-produced ready-to-wear designs and high turnover. This suited young people who were not concerned about unemployment or inflation and had money in their pockets to spend.
Lois Briggs (1961)National Archives of Australia
Shoppers crossing Bourke Street (1969)National Archives of Australia
By the late 1960s a new style emerged: the hippy look. Spurred on by a reaction against mass production and materialism, this was a time when fashion designers experimented with colours, patterns and textures borrowed from non-Western cultures.
Inspired by the Australian landscape and lifestyle, young Australian designers were starting to make their mark on the world fashion map, establishing the beginnings of a distinct Australian style.
'Australian Women's Weekly' fashions (1967)National Archives of Australia
Expo 70 hostesses relax on cane chairs at The Lodge (1970)National Archives of Australia
Australia solves a weighty fashion problem - unusual designs (1971)National Archives of Australia
Australian women's fashion (1978)National Archives of Australia
Taken mostly by anonymous government photographers travelling around Australia for the Australian News and Information Bureau, the photographs in this exhibition record not only the clothes we wore but also how this period’s cultural and social changes influenced our fashion choices.
Sydney Opera House as a setting for fashion (1973)National Archives of Australia
Actor Bobby Gledhill in a mini skirt walking past a group of Catholic nuns (1968)National Archives of Australia
This exhibit is from 'Strike a Pose', a larger exhibition developed by the National Archives of Australia in 2008, drawing on the vast and varied government photographic collections held in the Archives. The exhibition toured Australia until 2012.