Exhibition curator Lesley Apps looks over some of the dresses as part of her
Exhibition curator Lesley Apps looks over some of the dresses as part of her "Polyester Girl" exhibition at the Grafton Regional Gallery. Adam Hourigan

Polyester challenges silks in fashion exhibition

AS the Clarence Valley heads towards race week, the Grafton Regional Gallery is taking a slightly quirky look at the fashions that go with it.

The gallery will present Polyester Girl; an exhibition that takes a look at vintage, mass-produced synthetic garments and the Clarence Valley's own fashion history.

This intriguing exhibition comes from the collection of its curator, Lesley Apps, with many of the quality, synthetic garments to be showcased sourced from opportunity shops from around the Clarence Valley and North Coast region.

Ms Apps said fashion had become a regular fixture on many art gallery and museum programs.

"I thought the Clarence could also enjoy its own interpretation of this type of exhibition, one that was relative to the history and women of this area," she said.

"It's nice to give them a public airing too. They don't really mean anything unless you can share them with other people."

All the rage through the mid-century and up to the 1980s, Australian, factory-produced, synthetic garments were created for the stylish woman and allowed women stay up-to-date on the fashion front as the clothes were affordable and durable.

Ms Apps said she had been "casually" collecting garments over the past three decades; fashion being just one of her interests when it comes to accumulating objects from the past.

"I suppose I'm a borderline hoarder in that regard, although I have been culling my collections here and there over the past few years as things can get out of hand, particularly here in Grafton where there is plenty of history around and so many different objects that represent that history," she said.

She said she liked the fact every item she collected held a story - at least in her mind.

"Especially with these dresses, I often wonder who the lady was that owned it originally, where she wore it and whether I've every crossed paths with her without either of us knowing that connection," she said.

She said the exhibition could shed some light on the odd mystery or two if the original owner happened to come along and recognise a particular outfit.

"That would be pretty exciting, particularly if it conjures up fun memories for the wearer," she said.

"A lot of these dresses appear to have a social flavour to them."

This colourful display is officially opening at 6pm, Friday, July 8 along with three other exhibitions. The Grafton Regional Gallery invites everyone to enjoy an evening of music, nibbles and drinks. The music and food is themed in the '60s and '70s and guests are encouraged to dress in vintage.

There will also be a complementary curator's talk for Polyester Girl on Saturday, July 9 at 11am.

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