Electric blue Thai silk 'A line' full length evening dress with heavily sequinned cuffs resembling fish scales.

Designed by Melbourne couturier Hall Ludlow and made in 1966 in Hong Kong for the local market.

In 1966 the donor was working in Hong Kong at Lane Crawford, a British department store, as a public relations officer. In October of that year the store organised a presentation of 'The Hall Ludlow Collection', held at the Mandarin Hotel. She describes herself as the 'girl friday' running around doing all the last minute things. She decided, as she would be seen, she should be in one of the gowns and selected this one, wearing it with her off-white satin wedding shoes. She thought this would be okay, even though they were not a perfect match, as the dress touched the floor.

The presentation was a huge success. The donor remembers the main theme of the collection was his use of tulle, beautifully formed into petals all clustered together. She specifically remembers short evening coats, which made the models appear like big flowers coming down the runway. She thought her gown was very understated compared with the rest, describing it as 'beautiful in its simplicity'.

She loved it so much, and 'everyone said I should have it', so she purchased it with her staff discount. She wore it several times after this to balls and other functions. On one occasion she wore it to a New Year's Eve fancy dress party in New York, with her husband dressed as Prince Rainier and her as Grace Kelly, complete with a tiara.

Physical Description

Evening dress constructed of electric blue five- or six-ply Thai silk, with a pearl-shaped neckline. The dress is 'A' lined and full length. It has mandarin sleeves, the lower 20cm of which are trimmed with a large number oval shaped opalised cellulose acetate sequins resembling fish scales. It is lined with a blue cotton and cream cotton linings, and has a long metal zip which runs from the neckline to the lower back. White cloth designer's label sewn inside the back neck area. The dress has been shortened by approximately 10 cms, which has been secured with hand stitching.


Statement of Significance:

This dress represents the work of one of Melbourne's most prominent fashion designers Hall Ludlow. He, along with Prue Acton, was one of the first local designers to export their designs to overseas markets. He was born in New Zealand, but migrated to Melbourne as a young man and established a dress salon in Collins Street in 1949. He expanded his business to Sydney, and eventually to Hong Kong during the 1960s. So popular were his designs with the mainly British expat clientele, that he was soon manufacturing garments in Hong Kong, of which this dress is a great example.

It is also significant due to its links to the famed 'Paris End' of Collins Street, an area so named due to its earlier resemblance to the European city. Tree lined, and home to many restaurants (and later cafes), clothing and accessory designers and other artists, Ludlow found it the perfect place to open an upmarket fashion house, and was soon surrounded by the old money set, as well as the jet setters and theatre people. He collaborated with celebrated local photographers Helmut Newton, Athol Shmith and Bruno Benini and famed models such as Diane Masters and Maggie Tabberer.

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