To some Generation Y fashionistas, the name Jenny Bannister may not ring a bell, but if you know the history of the Australian fashion industry, the name is very familiar.
The vivacious designer, famous for her curly hair and 1000-watt smile, is one of the pioneers of Australian fashion. Her contribution saw her honoured in the Australia Post limited edition commemorative postage stamp series ‘Legends of Fashion’, alongside Prue Acton, Joe Saba, Carla Zampatti, Collette Dinnigan and Akira Isogawa.
Her early work, particularly of the 1970s and 1980s, was edgy, punk couture with a futuristic edge. In the 1990s, it became more commercial, concentrating on evening wear for which she developed a strong following. More importantly, she was one of the few fashion designers whose work has made such a significant impact that it has been recorded and preserved as a historical reference. The Jenny Bannister label can be found in the collections of major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV); her wedding dress, made of patent aniseed green python skin, can be found at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
These days trend forecasters scour the past to find major influences for today’s designs; Bannister’s work was simply ahead of its time – there was no trend forecasting back then, it was pure design and Bannister had the nous to be unique and innovative, yet remained commercial for decades.
Texture has played a strong part in her designs with plastic, leather and sea shells often incorporated. Talking to the fun-loving blonde, she states her designs cover “Punk Couture, Mad Max, New Romantics, and New Wave Tribal”.
She has done screen printing on suede for Neiman Marcus in Dallas Black velvet braid, and embossed club clothes for Kylie Minogue and Tina Arena. There was also silk georgette draped Pagan Princesses in 1989 for the FDC (Fashion Design Council). Her highlights reel has its own soundtrack – who could forget Kylie Minogue’s white cotton muslin dress in ” I should be so lucky”.
As an elder stateswoman of fashion it’s no surprise that she is modest and gracious. She is always happy to promote and celebrate other people’s success on social media, yet rarely tells others of the countless editorials that have celebrated her work in Vogue, Marie Claire and chronicles of the past like Mode magazine.
After a lifetime of achievement that has made her a living legend, Bannister retired her label, due to red tape in garment manufacturing in Australia. She is now running Fashion Torque, a live talk show with our dear friend, the leading Celebrity Stylist Philip Boon.
While talk of a Jenny Bannister retrospective has circulated for years, the dream is finally being realised for one night only, courtesy of Philip Boon, as part of his Philip Boon Presents series, which showcases excellence in fashion.
Garments from the National Gallery of Victoria’s most collected Australian fashion designer reveal a rare showcase of her archive collection from the mid 1970s to the 2000s.
Best of all, it is open to the open to the public, with all proceeds going towards Prahran Mission, which supports those with severe mental illness and the socially disadvantaged.
Philip Boon Presents: Jenny Bannister – A Retrospective Venue: Deutscher & Hackett Gallery
Address: 105 Commercial Road South Yarra Victoria
Date: Tuesday May 20th 2014
Tickets: $95.00 per head, including wine, canapés and show.
Available from: www.trybooking.com/EFGN or by calling 03 9692 9500
For further information please contact: Erica Myers-Davis at Prahran Mission on 03 96929500 or email [email protected]