Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition | Exhibition Opening, Old Government House Parramatta

One of the perks of being a volunteer for the Powerhouse Museum on a project such as the Australian Dress Register is that I'm invited to attend events such as the opening of the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition, which was held last week in Sydney.

What is Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries some of my international readers may ask? This Australian TV show is based on the 'Phryne Fisher Historical Mysteries' by Australian author Kerry Greenwood. The main character, the Honourable Phryne Fisher, is a sassy aristocratic flapper and private detective in 1920s Melbourne. With the assistance of her maid Dot and Bert and Cec (who are wharfies, taxi drivers and red raggers), and much to the dismay of Inspector Detective Jack Robinson, she helps to solve all manner of crimes. It's a great twist on the age old 'who dunnit' murder mystery, and certainly gives some of its stuffy British cousins a run for their money.

Not your average detective

The exhibition is hosted by the National Trust in conjunction with Every Cloud Productions, and costumes from both the first and second series are on display in Old Government House in Parramatta, Sydney. I must say the National Trust has done a great job at setting up the exhibition - its layout giving you a chance to not only see the 40+ costumes but to explore Old Government House, which is one of the oldest buildings in Australia.

And for those of you who love millinery you are in for a treat - there's a whole room full of just hats from the series! And trust me, its the 1920s so there a lot of hats!

Photo courtesy of ladylaurabell @ Instagram

Photo courtesy of ladylaurabell @ Instagram

At the opening of the exhibition I was lucky enough to hear the costume designer from the series, Marion Boyce, chat about the costumes and her inspiration for them.

"It’s a period that I really love – I just adore the 20s and 30s. I do a lot of period pieces and really enjoy them, but not a lot are made anymore, especially in Australia. So, to be offered a show in my hometown, Melbourne, and for a period I adore was just fantastic. Also, the character is so fantastic! Phryne is a really sassy individual and the leeway she allows is fantastic. She wasn't conventional in any way – she’d served in the war, lived in Paris in bohemian style, and probably travelled further afield. This meant our parameters were wider and we could have an enormous amount of fun with her. Phryne’s influences would've been European. At the time, most of our dress was influenced by UK fashion, and because she's lived in Paris, her boundaries are broader. She was much more playful than the more conservative English."

You can read more about the process of the costume design from the series here.

Like Catherine Martin, Marion Boyle is an excellent Australian costume designer with a flair for the dramatic, and her love of textures and colours is on full display in this production and exhibition.


Another highlight from the night was that my friend and I also got to meet actor Nathan Page aka. Detective Inspector jack Robinson from the series! Swoon!

So even if you're not a fan of the series or have never seen it, anyone with a love for 1920s fashion should definitely check this exhibition out. I also bought the costume catalogue which is beautifully presented.

To find out more information about the exhibition go to the National Trust Website.


  1. Thank you for posting this, it is really interesting. I enjoyed the interview. 8 weeks is a short time to source and make so many costumes, presumably for all the characters. Maybe it will come to NZ - in the meantime I'm enjoying the photos!

  2. Oh, I so envy you! I'm a big fan of the series, but as I live in Poland, it's almost impossible to visit the exhibition ;) Thank you for posting this!

    I came across your blog some time ago and I must say you're doing great job! :)

  3. Hello! I know you posted this ages ago, but it's been a great help for me and my Miss Fisher costume blog. I was wondering if there was any way I could see more of the costume catalogue? I'd be happy with anything you could provide! I'm over at Phrynefishersfrocks on Tumblr if you have any questions. Thank you so much!