16 August 2011
The Australian Dress Register, a new online resource, was launched today with an exhibition at the Museum of the Riverina in New South Wales.
An initial 80 items of clothing are on the register, an initiative of Australia's Powerhouse Museum. For the launch, the register includes objects only from regional museums and private collections in New South Wales. But the project will soon go national, with families throughout Australia being encouraged to list heirloom clothing they believe may be of historical significance to such institutions and people as schools, universities, fashion designers and filmmakers.
''We realised there is an incredible collection of interesting garments out there,'' curator Lindie Ward says. ''It is not just the garments but the stories behind them.''
''These garments are a doorway into fantastic stories of Australian history,'' Ward says.
One of the most historically important pieces on the register is a lush green velvet jacket once worn by an Afghan migrant who helped run one of the last camel trains around Broken Hill.
The Afghan jacket came to light when Christine Adams, of the Broken Hill Migrant Heritage Committee, gathered information for a book about the city's migrants. It belonged to Shamroze Khan (pictured above), an Afghan who arrived in Broken Hill in 1894, working as a hawker, miner and tram worker.
''He wore the jacket around Broken Hill just to go to the movies and so on,'' Adams says. He helped his father-in-law, Abdul Ziadulla Fazulla, who was one of the cameleers transporting goods to and from the Silver City.
''These two men were pretty well the last two practising Muslims left in Broken Hill. This particular jacket represents part of our Afghan history. More and more people are realising how important the Afghans were to this part of Australia. Dress depicts an era we will never have again.''
The jacket was displayed in Broken Hill in 2004 at a temporary "Sharing The Lode" Migrant Exhbition whic developed from the recording of migrants' stories in Broken Hill.
At that time the jacket had been located in the Mosque which is managed by the Broken Hill Historical Society (since it was the first mosque in the region and the mosque attended by the jacket's owner). The condition of the jacket had deteriorated and the Shamroze family requested the care of the jacket be transferred to the Broken HIll Migrant Committee Inc.
Due to its historical importance, the jacket is now housed in a a Conservation drawer and is available to interested parties at all times. There is little likelihood the jacket will be displayed externally due to its fragile condition.
Steve Meacham, "An online history of clothing shows we were what we wore" Sydney Morning Herald August 16, 2011
"Velvet Afghan Jacket" Australian Dress Register