Dressmaker at Ripponlea

The Dressmaker exhibition at Ripponlea Estate is a great excuse to experience the opulent lifestyle of the very rich, in a past era.

The house, as grand as it is, is rather gloomy. It took party girl Louisa Nathan, daughter and heiress of the Mapels fortune, to bring it into the swing of the early new Century. A fit setting for ‘Tilly’s inspirations.

The pool , the tennis court and the new Deco Ballroom with a reinforced floor, built to withstand Charleston vigour was and remains, a perfect party venue.

The house was designed by Architect Joseph Reed, he also designed the State Library and the Royal Exhibition buildings. The sprawling pleasure gardens that incorporate a lake and secret paths, was the brainchild of the original owner, Frederick Sargood. With the help of 40 men, they created a personal vision of paradise that is now a peaceful public retreat, in the midst of suburbia and chaotic traffic.

The lush setting of the estate is in stark contrast to the butchered landscape of Dungatar yet essentially, both reject the wild beauty of the original bush.

The Cinderella effect that the character Tilly waves over the unworthy, beautifies the wretched, with imported fabrics and designs. In the early part of the last Century, Australians looked to Europe for the lead in Fashion, Architecture and Art.The early settlers had not found their own voice or local patronage.

“She transforms all the women from drab to Fab” Rebecca Gibney.


“In particular, for this film the costume is everything, most incredible dresses in my career, we start off with a palette of brown, grey and dull…’she’ (Tilly played by Kate Winslet) brings in the wealth of colour” Marion Boyce

The exhibition features designs by Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson. Wilson was the main designer for Winslet and Boyce moulds the town folk.




review by A.Forward

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