Super 70s: A Fashion Exhibition

NTAV Rippon Lea Super 70s - photo by Theresa HarrisonTo celebrate and rediscover Melbourne’s contribution to fashion in the 1970s, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) presents an immersive Super 70s exhibition at the historic Rippon Lea Estate, currently on display until 4 November 2018.

Super 70s: A Fashion Exhibition features exquisite 1970s garments and accessories from the National Trust’s Costume Collection, as well as rare collection items by Australian design icons including Prue Acton, Sally Browne, Clarence Chai and The House of Merivale.

Simon Ambrose, CEO of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) said the exhibition will showcase the best of seventies fashion in Australia. “We invite everyone to experience the Super 70s and revisit what Melburnians wore during this revolutionary decade, whether rocking out to Sherbet at Festival Hall, social gatherings in South Yarra or partying in a student share house in Carlton,” said Mr Ambrose.

In Melbourne, change during this decade was relentless, fast-paced and monumental. The progressive change and counter-cultural influence had a long lasting impact on how we dress. The lines between formal and informal began to be eroded, with day wear able to be worn as evening wear and denim and casual wear took on a whole new meaning. Unisex styling also had a big effect.

Inspiration was also taken from outer space and new technology. Colour TV was first broadcast in 1975. Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars became cinema classics that had a long term cultural impact. With fashion, retro historicism was embraced and counterpointed these fast-paced changes. Fashion became casual and relaxed far removed from the mannered etiquette of previous years when stricter dress codes applied.

Shining the spotlight on the diverse fashion trends and styles of the 70s allows Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna, Exhibition Producer of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) the opportunity to dig out some much loved pieces from the archives.

“The Items we’ve selected for the exhibition reflect a time of dynamic experimentation, when many rules were broken, and individual self-expression was the style,” said Ms Anya-Petrivna. “While working on our last exhibition – Night Life which focused on the 1920s and 30s I discovered some pieces in the collection that took inspiration from these decades but were made in the 1970s.”

“I became intrigued by the 1970s retro revival of the interwar period and mid-20th century. In particular, the use of vintage as high fashion. These gowns became the inspiration for Super 70s. The exhibition will launch visitors back to an era of glossy spandex and slinky polyester, and will feature some interactive experiences for the whole family to enjoy.”

In sourcing the fashion for the show, many of the designers, creatives and lovers of fashion kept many garments from their 1970s wardrobes. In a sense we’ve been able to put together an idea of each contributor’s personal style, as well as examples from their fashion collections.

“Designer Sally Browne has lent us many examples of the fashion she wore – it’s a privileged insight into the personal taste and aesthetic of one of Melbourne much loved designers,” said Ms Anya-Petrivna. “Similarly, Clarence Chai – who dressed both local and international celebrities like Debbie Harry has given us items he wore together with some of his iconic designs.”

Over the duration of the exhibition, there will also be a series of events taking place including a disco in the Rippon Lea ballroom, a record fair featuring vintage vinyls, a car show showcasing classic vehicles from the 1970s and curator talks focusing on the making and inspiration behind the exhibition.

Super 70s: A Fashion Exhibition
Rippon Lea Estate, 192 Hotham Street, Elsternwick
Exhibition continues to 4 November 2018
Admission fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Super 70s: A Fashion Exhibition (installation view) – photo by Theresa Harrison