Miegunyah House Museum: Art Deco fashion collection

It is one thing to read about the Art Deco fashions that graced Queensland streets in the 1920s, but it’s quite another to see the original garments up close. Miegunyah House Museum has brought us this rare chance with its exhibition, Thoroughly Modern.

Exhibition flyerMiegunyah is an 1880s Queenslander perched high in Brisbane’s Bowen Hills. It has operated as a house museum since 1968 and is home to the Queensland Women’s Historical Association (QWHA) which researches and promotes the contribution of women to Queensland’s development from the early years of European settlement. Since the 1950s, the QWHA has built a significant collection of domestic and personal artefacts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including furniture, art works, ornaments, silverware, kitchen and laundry equipment, costumes, textiles, toys and handicrafts.

To bring us the Thoroughly Modern exhibition, Miegunyah has delved deep into its archives of 1920s Queensland fashion, a period when hemlines shortened, waistlines dropped and once-long locks were bobbed and shingled, epitomised by the style icon of the Flapper. Miegunyah’s collection shows us that Queensland women were fervent followers of these fashion trends, which swept the western world as part of the modern movement.

Here is a taste of some of the coats, frocks, accessories, beachwear and fabrics from the collection, on display as part of Thoroughly Modern.

Theatre coats

Pale peach velvet theatre coat with diagonal folding detail on collar, cuffs and hem, ca. 1920.

Peach theatre coat


Black silk velvet theatre coat with beaded embellishment, ca.1920.

Black silk theatre coat


Colourful theatre coat made from burntout velvet, a new fabric developed in the 1920s using chemical gel to create patterns, ca. 1920.

Colourful theatre coat


Cream lace dress, ca. 1920.

Cream lace dress


Black silk evening dress embellished with glass beads, sequins, diamontes and embroidery, ca. 1929. Owned by Lucy Jean Dinmore Cribb, Brisbane.

Black evening dress


Beaded reticule made of fabric and glass beads, ca. 1920s.

Beaded reticule


Beaded handbag embellished with multi-coloured glass beads, ca. 1925.

Beaded handbag


Gold leather dance shoes, ca. 1925.

Gold leather dance shoes


Hair comb, ca. 1920.

Cream hair comb


Jantzen swimsuit box and black swimsuit with diving girl logo symbolising a new age of freedom, ca. 1929. The swimsuit was purchased by Gertrude Richardson at Allan and Stark Department Store, Queen Street, Brisbane.


Beach parasol made of embroidered linen, carved wooden handle and Bakelite spoke tips, ca. 1925. Owned by Eunice Paten, Brisbane.

Beach parasol (inside)


Detail of fabrics in Miegunyah’s 1920s fashion collection.


The Thoroughly Modern exhibition is open to the public on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays until 11 October 2015. Admission $7.50. Located at 35 Jordan Tce, Bowen Hills.

Thank you to Miegunyah House Museum for permission to publish photographs of the exhibition.


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Image acknowledgements 

Exhibition flyer and image of black silk evening dress courtesy of Miegunyah House Museum. All other images by Queensland Deco Project. Images may not be reproduced without prior permission of both Queensland Deco Project and Miegunyah House Museum.

Categories: Collections, Fashion

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4 replies

  1. Oh wow – I had no idea this place existed! Thank you very much for highlighting it – guess what I’m now planning to do this weekend….I need to see that black sequined coat and only $7.50 for Devonshire Tea? Goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks fabulous. Thanks for the heads up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A feast for the eyes! And so tactile. Sorry I’ll miss it. Lots to explore when I come up!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sad I missed this by only a few days…. I definitely want to visit Miegunyah next time I’m in Brisbane, hadn’t heard of it until this post.

    Liked by 1 person

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