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Discover Australia's Jewish Fashion Stories

Hear from fashion experts and historians about how Jewish refugees helped build the Australian fashion industry

Australia was establishing a distinctive fashion voice by the 20th century. Its fashion was transformed quite rapidly again with the Second World War and the arrival of European émigrés including many Jewish refugees on Australian shores. Through the efforts of these communities – as both producers and consumers of fashion – the Australian approach to dress was catapulted into a new era of exciting colour, styles and sophistication.

Session I:
Claudio Alcorso: From Rome To Hobart

Claudio Alcorso (1913-2000) was among the vanguard of early émigré ‘change makers’. Alcorso – an Italian-born Jewish industrialist, winemaker, cultural philanthropist – founded Australia’s Silk and Textile Fabrics, a conglomerate producing artist-designed silk and cottons, and later the famous household name Sheridan Sheets.

Tracey Sernack-Chee Quee, a doctoral candidate (UTS) in Australian mid-century fashion and textile design, brings Alcorso’s legacy to life in her presentation Claudio Alcorso: From Rome to Hobart. Tracing the history of the Piperno Alcorso department stores in Rome to Claudio Alcorso’s arrival in Hobart, Sernack-Chee Quee shares how this visionary employer of some 1,400 individuals gave women senior design roles, provided housing for immigrant workers, involved the labour force in the running of the factory and introduced the first 40-hour work week in Tasmania.

Session II:
Sewing Their Way To Success: Fashion & Sydney’s Jewish Émigrés

From Alcorso’s pioneering approach to textile innovation and dynamic business enterprises in Tasmania’s fashion and wine world, the focus shifts to Sydney where the Jewish community was once again instrumental in developing Australia’s fashion credentials.

Join Professor Peter McNeil in re-revisiting the 2015 exhibition Dressing Sydney, followed by an intimate screening of Geraldine Doogue’s Rags To Riches, a much-admired piece of investigative journalism originally produced for ABC’s Compass.

Capacity: 50



Sunday 7 April 2019 from 2pm to 5.30pm

Due to high demand, bookings are essential.


Tickets: $10.00

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