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Travel, Fashion, Inside Story

Dressmaker Costume Exhibition Loves Melbourne


The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition is a compelling exhibition open until 11th March 2016; and a must visit for every fashionista.

Dressmaker, as most would know, is a popular movie, exploding on the big screen with style and panache, starring the fabulous Kate Winslet. Following the release of the critically acclaimed film, The Dressmaker, the National Trust in association with Film Art Media has opened a major exhibition of Marion Boyce's incredible costume design, only an hour and a half drive away from Melbourne at the charming Barwon Park Mansion in Winchelsea. 

Brought to you by Nuffnang and The Dressmaker.

The World Loves Melbourne enjoyed "making a day of it" travelling to the charming Barwon Park Mansion and meet with costume designer, Marion Boyce to discuss the iconic collection.


At Barwon Park Mansion we were transported to the dusty town of Dungatar in the 1950s, experiencing the journey of transformation through the artful and luxurious costumes worn by Kate Winslet and the cast of the Dressmaker. The exhibition reveals how the costumes, inspired by Parisian couture, were made and developed for the film. Visitors are able to see the level of detail and artisanship which went into making the costumes.

The exhibition features 50 designs by Marion Boyce as well as Tilly Dunnage's costumes designed by Margot Wilson. The location of the exhibition and the beauty of the costumes create a wonderful incongruous and unexpected quality which captures the spirit of the film.


The World Loves Melbourne was honoured to visit The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition. Greeted by the beautiful 42 room bluestone mansion, it was impossible not to be transported back to the dusty, fictional town of Dungatar in the 1950's. Before being taken on a unique journey exploring the 50 beautifully luxurious, handmade costumes worn by Kate Winslet and the cast of The Dressmaker.

The colonial house is quintessentially British in appearance, except with the embellishment of a ten-foot single storey cast iron verandah which wraps around three sides of the building. Completed in 1871, Barwon Park has only been owned by two families, the Austins and the Batsons and every detail has been carefully considered. The house is now cared for by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and is gradually being restored following a $1.1million grant from the Federal Government Heritage Protection Program Jobs Fund.


Each of the interior rooms was incredibly typical of the British Colonial houses built in the nineteenth century - incredibly private and designed with clear purpose and functionalty. Marion Boyce and her team have carefully chosen which items are to be displayed in each room, and as you walk through the building from room to room you become more and more enthralled by the incredible skill and beauty of the costumes. 

The Exhibition reveals how the costumes, inspired by Parisian couture, were made and developed for the film. Marion passionately told The World Loves Melbourne how 'the film so excellently lends itself to an exhibition because it is a costume drama', and more importantly how infrequently do we get to see the fantastic creations made for the movies!


As Marion led us around the showcase she explained that they 'created around 350 costumes in total, and that is just for the main cast, on top of that was all of the extras' - we felt lucky to have seen the 50 on show! In total there were 18 people working on the collection including; buyers, cutters, pattern makers, finishes, co-ordinators, sewers and the set crew.

As we wandered from room to room between each collection, seeing the methods, watching the projection movies and listening intently to the volunteer guides, we were able to clearly see the astonishing level of detail, passion and artisanship which went into making the costumes.


A particular favourite of The World Loves Melbourne was Gertrude's organza pleated cape – it's a showstopper. When discussing it with Marion, she explained that it was one of her 'many favourites' as it 'was an enormous amount of fun to make, but it was also incredibly challenging as it was out of 40m of organza, yet the final piece looked entirely seamless'.

The location and costume collection perfectly complements one another, highlighting the true beauty and quality of the costumes in a striking Australian landscape, capturing and celebrating the real essence of the film.

We definitely would recommend a visit to the Dressmaker Costume Exhibition, it is a truly fascinating day out and there is so much to explore in the local Winchelsea area too. Tickets can be purchased online or on the door (full pricing information below).

Thank you to Marion Boyce, The Dressmaker team, National Trust, Barwon Park volunteers and Film Art Media for a great afternoon.


The exhibition is open from 11am to 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday between 11th December 2015 and 11th March 2016. Closed Christmas Day.

Admission Prices

General admission:

Adult $20

Concession $18

Child (5-15yrs) $10

Family (2 adults, 2 children) $50

National Trust Members

Adult $17

Concession $16

Child (5-15yrs) $7.50

Family (2 adults, 2 children) $45

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

Barwon Park Mansion, 105 Inverleigh Road, Winchelsea, Victoria, 3241