Black in Fashion: Mourning to Night is definitely a worthwhile duo of fashion exhibitions. There's beautifully detailed Victorian dresses, architectual structures, exploration of shape and cuts, a variety of fabrics and surface contrasts best explored in monotone.
My expectations of it were a little topsy turvy - I found the Australian half of it at The Ian Potter Centre more impressive than the international half. It isn’t because the fashion was any better but because I could see it well. The lighting was extremely dim at NGV International. Why should this be when you’re dealing with pieces of the same age and materials? I respect the need for dim lighting of textiles but the disparity between the two shows baffles me.
One showcase had no lights on at all - most likely the light bulb was blown - when we visited on a Sunday afternoon. The space containing these large showcases is designed to cut out most daylight, and has minimal ambient light, so this rendered whatever was in the case invisible. I could just make out what might have been an embroided collar or perhaps an apron. I find this is unacceptable gallery practice for such a prestigious institution.
Most memorable pieces @ the Ian Potter NGV;
Two exquisitely beaded, Victorian mantles,
@ at NGV International;