ACD National Network Workshop

Art Craft Design National Network presents: Curating fashion for a contemporary context

12:45pm – 4:15pm Monday 4 June 2018

Forum Theatre, Level 1, Arts West North Wing, Professor’s Walk, The University of Melbourne, Parkville

To download the ACD National Network Workshop program (including map), please click here.

REGISTRATION FOR THE ACD NETWORK WORKSHOP IS NOW CLOSED. If you would like to register on the day at the door, please be sure to contact Debbie on before 11:30am on Monday 4 June. 

In recent years, we have seen an increase in exhibitions of fashion in art galleries, from Vivienne Westwood to Valentino, from the House of Dior to the recent exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery of Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. One could attribute the success of attracting local and interstate audiences to astute staging and marketing of fashion exhibitions. But there is more to it than clever marketing. Join a panel of international, national, local and regional experts in discussion about how fashion is curated in a contemporary context.

All prices are in AUD and are inclusive of GST (includes afternoon tea):

MGA Members attending the main conference                                       $35.00

MGA Members not attending the main conference                               $55.00

Non-members attending the main conference                                      $65.00

Non-members not attending the conference                                         $85.00

For further information contact Debbie Abraham on (02) 4965 8260 or

This session was developed to support the Museums Galleries Australia National Conference and to enhance the position of the arts in the conference program. Curating fashion for a contemporary context was developed by the Art Craft Design National Network in partnership with 2018 Museums Galleries Australia Conference Committee. Shonagh Marshall’s attendance is generously supported by the Gordon Darling Foundation.


12:45:       Registration

1:00pm    Introduction, Chair ACD NN Debbie Abraham

1:05pm    Shonagh Marshall: independent London-based fashion curator

Curating contemporary culture 

Labelled as a fashion curator Shonagh Marshall would instead place her practice within the boundary of contemporary culture. In this talk she will begin by outlining previous fashion exhibitions she has curated, focusing on Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore, Hair by Sam McKnight and Posturing. She will then go on to outline all the ideas that she has had that haven’t yet gone ahead and the reasons why. Asking the audience to consider is she a ‘Fashion Curator’, what does this really mean today and where should her curatorial practice live?

1:55pm    Roger Leong: Senior Curator, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney

Faith, Fashion, Fusion: Muslim Women’s Style in Australia

A discussion about the development and impact of a small exhibition which first appeared at the Powerhouse Museum in 2012 and has since toured extensively across Australia. In 2017-18 the exhibition toured to Kuala Lumpur and Djakarta with further international venues currently under discussion.

2:15         Paola di Trocchio: Acting Senior Curator, Fashion and Textiles, National Gallery Victoria

Luxury and the museum in the 21st century

While fashion has actively been collected and displayed in museums since the early twentieth century, the presentation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2011 exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty shifted the field of fashion curatorial practice due to its outstanding audience attendance, dramatic staging and complex subject. This presentation will look at the fashion exhibition in the twenty-first century and the unique positioning of the NGV in this field.

2:35pm    Afternoon tea

3:05pm    Peter McNeil: Distinguished Professor of Design, University of Technology Sydney and Aalto Finland

Men in the Museum: from Bathurst to Los Angeles, outback to downtown.

Curatorial and associated exhibition writing occurs across all scales and locations, from the local to the global. This paper considers how men’s fashion and fashionability was used as a conceptual frame in thinking through audiences and addresses across two very different locations, Bathurst and Los Angeles/Sydney. The former case is Richard Perram’s The Unflinching Gaze: photo media and the male figure (Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, 2017) which included images of men in fashion/fashion in men, both conventional and transgressive. Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715-2015 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art: touring to St Louis, currently on display at MAAS/Powerhouse, Sydney) is the largest exhibition of men’s fashion ever assembled. How were the themes ‘cut’, what stories were told, and how can audiences imagine themselves in and through such exhibitions? How were aspects of fashion linked to the refashioning of the male body over time, as well as queer and other politics today?

3:20pm  Grace Lillian Lee

Culture to catwalk

Grace Lillian Lee is a multicultural Australian artist known for drawing inspiration from her Indigenous heritage. Through collaborations with Australian Indigenous communities and their art centres, she has created a platform for cultural expression and celebration by way of fashion performances. These are instrumental in engaging young people from remote communities and providing an opportunity for them to represent and be proud of their culture and country through fashion and performance.

3:40pm Karen Quinlan: Director, Bendigo Art Gallery

For the love of Fashion

Bendigo Art Gallery has been exploring aspects of fashion history, design and popular culture over the past ten years through a range of curated exhibitions and through collaborations with international cultural institutions. The challenges and impact of such programming will be discussed with some case studies about past exhibitions and those planned for the future.

4:00pm    Questions

4:30pm    Close


Speakers’ biographies:

Shonagh Marshall

Shonagh Marshall is an independent London-based fashion curator focusing on clothing’s role in contemporary culture. Shonagh began her career archiving the Alexander McQueen Collection for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Following this, she archived the Christian Louboutin Collection and the Isabella Blow Collection. Appointed at Somerset House in 2012 as Assistant Curator Shonagh worked on Valentino: Master of Couture and Tim Walker: Story Teller. Becoming Curator in 2013 she co-curated Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! — the first exhibition to explore the late, great fashion editor’s clothing collection and life story.

An independent curator since 2016, in the past year Shonagh has curated Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney (11 May- 28 August 2016), Utopian Voices, Here and Now at Somerset House (6 July- 29 August 2016) and Hair by Sam McKnight at Somerset House (2 November 2016 – 12 March 2017). Shonagh is also a consultant to the Isabella Blow Foundation, is on the The Costume Society Board and is a regular contributor to AnOther magazine.

Roger Leong

Roger Leong is Senior Curator (Fashion) at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney. He became an Assistant Curator in International Decorative Arts in the National Gallery of Australia in 1990, and then became the Senior Curator of the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in 2003. In 2004, he was appointed as the Curator of Fashion and Textiles, National Gallery Victoria, a position he held for 10 years. Roger studied a Diploma of Fashion at RMIT University, then a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts at Monash University before proceeding to study a Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Science (Museum Studies) in Deakin University.

Roger’s research interests focus on fashion and include Regency dress, Art Deco style, contemporary millinery and footwear including sneakers, Japanese fashion, 1980s power-dressing, men’s dress, prestige dressmakers and ready-to-wear designers in Australia, fashionable black, fashion and dance, and lace in fashion. His curatorial and publication practice have extended his research to include Ballets Russes costumes and designs, the Arts and Crafts movement, English embroidery and contemporary Australian artists including Rick Amor, Peter Churcher, eX de Medici and others. Roger has curated exhibitions, published and lectured on numerous areas relating to fashionable dress from the nineteenth century to the present.

Peter McNeil

Peter McNeil FAHA is a major figure in art, fashion and design history with an extensive record of publishing and public speaking. His global research has been recognized by the Australian Academy of the Humanities (2013) and the Academy of Finland: Distinguished Professor award (2014). He has been nominated to the International Committee of the History of Art, the ‘Olympics’ of Art History. Described as the world’s greatest expert on 18th-century men’s dress, his reach extends to design culture generally from 1700 to the present day, combining a sophisticated theoretical approach alongside a very pragmatic, empirical understanding of objects themselves. His work has been praised in The New York TimesThe Guardian, and The Observer. He is popular speaker in Australia and overseas, having delivered the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Learning Curve lectures as well as being an Association of Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies lecturer.

At University of Technology Sydney, Peter lectures in inter-disciplinary design. His focus is PhD supervision: many of his candidates have won post-doctoral prizes and awards. Topics range from rethinking maternity dress to the politics of work in the digital age. He is a regular collaborator with cultural organisations: National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum (Australia), AGNSW, National Library of Australia and museums in the USA, UK and Sweden. Partnerships include the Sydney Jewish Museum and Reigning Men at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Paola Di Trocchio

Paola Di Trocchio is the Curator of International Fashion and Textiles at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), in charge of developing and maintaining the NGV’s eclectic and varied fashion and textiles collections and exhibitions.

Paola studied in RMIT University, completing a Masters in Fashion in 2011. While studying her Masters, she was also a guest lecturer in Monash University from 2007 to 2010. In 2003, she began work as an Assistant Curator of the International Fashion and Textiles collection at the NGV, proceeding to become Curator in 2014. Regarding her work, Paola has noted that acquiring collections is often a competitive field “Sometimes we’re even competing with design houses themselves, who are buying back their own archives”.

Grace Lillian Lee

Grace Lillian Lee is an Artist, Designer and Curator from Cairns who uses her fashion knowledge as a platform to explore her cultural identity. Her cultural background includes German, Danish, English and Chinese but it is her Torres Strait Islander heritage that has captured her imagination. With a strong desire to work with Communities and to encourage creative expression, delving deeper into Indigenous culture Grace moved towards mentoring youth in Aboriginal Art Centres. Here she guided members towards developing their art into textiles and adornment in a contemporary way. A graduate from RMIT in Fashion Design, Grace was recently offered a position to complete a Doctorate in Creative Industries focusing on fashion performances at QUT. She is the founder of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Fashion Performances that began in 2011 and has personally showcased her collections in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, New Zealand, and San Francisco.

Karen Quinlan

Karen is Director of Bendigo Art Gallery, Professor of Practice and Director of the La Trobe Art Institute La Trobe University, a Trustee of the State Library of Victoria, Board Member and former Chair of the Public Galleries Association of Victoria. Karen was appointed in 2017 as a board member of the Victorian Foundation of Living Australian Artists, for the National Gallery of Victoria. Karen commenced her curatorial career in 1994 at National Gallery of Victoria before becoming Curator of Bendigo Art Gallery in 1996 and appointed as Director in 2000.

Karen has been instrumental in working with international cultural institutions, attracting high profile exhibitions to regional Victoria including The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957, The White Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion and Grace Kelly: Style Icon, achieving unprecedented economic benefits to the region with record attendances of over 150,000. A recent collaborative exhibition with the Royal Academy of Arts, produced Genius and Ambition: The Royal Academy of Arts, London 1768-1918 which was hailed as ‘exhibition of the year’ by Australian critics. An ongoing relationship with the Victoria and Albert Museum witnessed Undressed: 350 years of fashion in underwear displayed July – October 2014. Collaborating for the first time with the British Museum in 2014 The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece was hosted and the exhibition Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox presents Marilyn Monroe in 2016 attracted another record attendance of 142,000 visitors to the city of Bendigo.

Karen has overseen two redevelopments of the Bendigo Art Gallery in 2001 and more recently an $8.5m redevelopment completed in 2014.