09/02/2016
Huge.

Words by

Tara Smith

The National Gallery of Victoria just received one of the most highly coveted fashion collections in the world.

Rare 1920s gowns, haute couture from Christian Dior’s first ever collection and a certain little black dress from Coco Chanel are among the collection.

It spans 130 works from over 30 different fashion designers, from the 1800s to 2003.

203 years of French haute couture, now in the hands of the NGV. That’s a pretty big deal for you, Melbourne.

The collection was purchased and donated by Mrs Krystyna Campbell-Pretty in memory of her husband.

“My late husband, Harold Campbell-Pretty, was a committed supporter of the NGV and a great lover of women's fashion. This gift, in his memory, is an outstanding opportunity to recognise both of these passions in honoring a most elegant man, a true gentleman,” said Mrs Campbell-Pretty.

The $1.4 million collection was developed over several decades by former Givenchy courtier Dominique Sirop.

He acquired the first piece, a 1945 Paquin black wool dress, at age 14 with money borrowed from his grandmother.

NGV senior curator Katie Somerville told the ABC the gallery hoped to hold the first public exhibition of the collection in 2018.

Now we play the waiting game.

ngv.vic.gov.au

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