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Beyond the Bale : Aug 07 - Sep 07
12 MERINO 200 BEYOND THE BALE 1916 In World War I, wool was urgently needed for uniforms and other military purposes. In 1916, the British Government purchased the entire Australian wool clip at a fixed price for the duration of the war. the fashion world. The story of wool and fashion in the Australian context is not simply about clothing; rather it involves the complexities of the economic state of rural Australia, the ebb and flow of fashion's vagaries, the defining of personal and national style and the shifting desires of society. The beginning of the recognition of wool in fashion started with the International Wool Secretariat in the early 1950s. In key cities across the globe, IWS regional directors commissioned gifted designers, who in turn worked with leading knitwear and textile manufacturers to create collections that were presented in prestigious runway parades. Designers across the globe entered the IWS wool fashion awards, with winners including the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. Evening glamour in gossamer-fine yarns and sensuous wool jerseys were showcased from Paris to Hong Kong. Audiences across the globe marvelled at the rich versatility of pure Australian wool. Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel had needed no convincing that wool was the key to liberating women from their corsets and fussy garb. In 1923, she introduced her iconic wool suit with its trim knee-length skirt and braided, boxy jacket, and she popularised wool jersey. In 1926, the legendary Parisian designer gave wool an even bigger boost through her signature little black dress, and her enormous influence continues to reverberate. Wool and the Parisian sense of style have been even more central to the careers of others in the fashion world, such as Rykiel, who shot to fame in the early 1960s with her 'poor boy' sweater and was subsequently dubbed 'Queen of Knits' in the US. "All my clothes are in wool. I am a wool woman," the French designer said in Sydney as she prepared for the Bicentennial Wool Collection. And Rykiel's spring- summer 2007 collection at Paris Fashion Week reveals she has remained true to her passion. In Italy, the marriage of wool, creativity, technology and superb craftsmanship spawned an extraordinary post-World War II industry that played a sizeable role in establishing Milan as one of the world's key fashion cities. Australian Merino wool continues to command respect through labels as diverse as Missoni -- whose trademark colourful, patterned knits catapulted husband- and-wife team Tai and Rosita to fame in the 1960s -- and Pure Australian Merino wool has not only been an inspiration for designers at home but also those in the fashion capitals of the world From fleece to fashion: To fully appreciate the role Australian Merino wool plays not only in global fashion but in Australia's history, one only needs to look at how Australia celebrated its bicentenary. On 31 January 1988 a key bicentenary 'extravaganza', billed as "the fashion event of the century", was telecast to millions worldwide. This milestone event focused purely on the use of Australian wool in fashion. The world's best designers, including Claude Montana, Sonia Rykiel, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Kenzo Takada, Gianni Versace, Missoni, Jean Muir and Bruce Oldfield, were called on to showcase Australian wool in front of 1700 people, including guests of honour the Prince and Princess of Wales, at the Sydney Opera House. The nation's woolgrowers could congratulate themselves that their Merino fleece was indeed gold in THE WOOLMARK COMPANY 1892 During the long pastoral boom, the number of sheep in Australia had increased from 40 million in 1879 to 106 million. 1910 In the early years of her professional career, Gabrielle Chanel introduced women to wool jersey. Many designers followed suit and wool jersey still remains a popular fabric. 1872 The Suez Canal began to offer a shorter route for steamships carrying Australian wool to London. But most wool exports still went in sailing ships that crossed the Pacific and passed Cape Horn before entering the Atlantic. As wool was a valuable cargo, much money -- or interest -- was saved if the voyage to market was rapid. 1895-1902 The Federation Drought cut sheep numbers by 50 million. This was of critical importance, as at the time fleeces were worth from five to 10 shillings. The continuing drought meant that wool was briefly displaced as Australia's major export.
Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement