he first major survey of fashion pioneers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson will open at the Powerhouse Museum on October 17 and will run until 22 March 2020.
Melbourne born Linda Jackson and Bondi Beach girl Jenny Kee met at the Bonython and struck up an instant rapport with a shared love of vibrant 1959’s prints.
Jenny Kee stated that Lind Jackson was a shaman of the bush seeing faces and colours in the gum trees and other natives that was revelatory.
Linda Jackson saw Jenny Kee as a Chinese porcelain doll and the Paul Cox trained Jackson started photographing Jenny Kee in a bush setting as her muse.
They then commenced to produce hand painted and hand stitched fabrics whereupon Jenny Kee opened the iconic Flamingo Park in the Strand Arcade.
To Key’s surprise her woollen tops decorated with iconic Australian animals were an instant hit .
Shortly thereafter visiting celebrities such as Lauren Bacall and the late David Bowie beat a path to their door.
At a government house reception to which they were invited, Princess Diana sought them out in order to purchase some of their garments. When Princess Diana wore one of their woollen jumpers featuring a koala on the front, the pair were launched into fashion super stardom.
Karl Lagerfeld asked if he could use one of their prints for his first fashion show for Chanel . The pair were so honoured by the request that they released it for free with no payment of royalty.
The exhibition contains over a hundred and fifty garments, textiles and artworks including some from the Powerhouse’s own extensive collection displayed in environments from the Australian bush, the Red Centre, Great Barrier Reef and Lightning Ridge opals and waratahs. As you visit each room, there are strategically placed ipads which you can access for a more in-depth viewing experience.
In fact when Jenny Kee was asked to name her favourite fashion collection she nominated the waratah garments, because the waratah was like a beacon in the bush, dwarfing out other plants in size and colour.
The collection starts with the early childhoods of Kee and Jackson and moves into their Flamingo Park days immediately thereafter.
In another gallery their are slide projections and video clips of their early days including interviews with fashion doyen of the time Maggie Tabberer and photos of their fun runway shows known as the flamingo follies with set designs by Kee’s then husband Michael Ransden.
For the first time, never before seen, are the pairs collection for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
At the media preview to the exhibition, after over 40 years together the affection they both hold for each other is obviously on display.
They were also enthusiastic about the emergence of fashion designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, known as ‘Romance Was Born’. They referred to them as their children with ‘fashion like theirs but not like theirs.
They also heaped praise on the curator, writer and academic Dr Sally Gray and creative director Tony Assness who amongst other things was responsible for the striking lighting and immersive and evocative soundscape.
In association with the exhibition there will be a number of evening talks with speakers including Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, fashion editor Jane Dteliga , curator Jess Scully, the Australian’s fashion editor Glynis Traill-Nash and Dr Sally Gray amongst others.
There will also be opportunities for after hours viewings.
Jenny Kee set out a potential challenge for visitors to see which design was created by her and which by Linda. In fact whilst I was photographing the pair amongst their mannequins it was hard to differentiate between the pair and the model figures draped in their creations.
The reason was that they were twin souls seeing through one set of eyes even when they were apart.
For further details about the exhibition : https://museum/paradise
Featured image- Linda Jackson, Jenny Kee & Luke Sales, Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born. All pics by Ben Apfelbaum