October 2011

Arts & Letters

Fashion masterpiece

By Clare Press
Romance was born - ‘The Oracle’, 2011

‘The Oracle’, the fifth major show by two Sydney-based iconoclasts, initially had Australian Vogue decrying the absence of the “madcap prop styling, the fireworks, the pizzazz” for which the designers, Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, have become known. (Their first show opened with dancing ‘God’ in a bikini and closed with a pantomime goat sacrifice and the designers emerging from teepees.)

But although the twenty-eighth exit was a ‘bride’ of cascading crocheted wool ‘feathers’ inspired by The Neverending Story’s luck-dragon Falkor, it was clear ‘The Oracle’ marked a pivotal moment in the story of this truly original outfit. Bride aside, the art had finally turned wearable beyond the theatrical costumes shown by the label in seasons past.

The show, accompanied by the rousing voices of the Australian Youth Choir, melded influences from Erté’s illustration, Art Deco jewellery design and modern painting with the designers’ signature heavy embellishment firmly rooted in craft (Sales’s mother crochets the showpieces). All this was tied together by the visceral, graffiti-like sprawl of artist Nell’s prints and punkish handpainted silks. Somehow these disparate influences came together to make the most eloquent statement about what fashion – by way of expression, adornment, role-play and fantasy – can do for the wearer.

—Clare Press

Cover: October 2011
View Edition

From the front page

Composite image of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young. Images via ABC News / YouTube

Getting to 80

We now have vaccination targets, but there’s no consensus over what must be done to reach them

Image of Scott Morrison at Kirribilli House, July 9, 2021

The coward’s pulpit

Scott Morrison is a leader who not only fails to accept responsibility but continually abandons his post

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Jenny Morrison laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier during the Anzac Day commemorative service on April 25, 2020. Image © Alex Ellinghausen / AAP Image/ Sydney Morning Herald Pool

A rallying crime

For a country that loves invoking the virtues of wartime sacrifice, why have our leaders failed to appeal to the greater good during the pandemic?

Photo of installation view of the exhibition Camille Henrot: Is Today Tomorrow at NGV International. Photo © Tom Ross

Simultaneous persuasions: ‘Camille Henrot: Is Today Tomorrow’

Radical difference and radical proximity are hallmarks of the French-born artist’s NGV exhibition


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


More in Arts & Letters

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Time remaining

New poetry from the award-winning writer and critic

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, ‘Portrait of Irène Cahen d’Anvers’ (La petite Irène), 1880

Breathless spaces: ‘The House of Fragile Things’

James McAuley’s examination of four great art-collecting families and the French anti-Semitism that brought their downfall

Image from ‘Shiva Baby’

Forebodings and a funeral: ‘Shiva Baby’

Emma Seligman’s funny but tense film is a triumph of writing and performance over spectacle

Image of Suzanne Ciani

Tip of the pops: ‘This Is Pop’ and ‘Song Exploder’

Two Netflix documentary series only manage to skim the surface of pop music history


More in Masterpieces

Contemporary dance masterpiece

Tanja Liedtke - ‘construct’, 2007

Television masterpiece

Chris Lilley - ‘Summer Heights High’, 2007

20 Australian Masterpieces Since 2000

David Gulpilil in 'The Tracker'. Image courtesy of Rolf de Heer.

Film masterpiece

Rolf de Heer - ‘The Tracker’, 2002


Read on

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Jenny Morrison laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier during the Anzac Day commemorative service on April 25, 2020. Image © Alex Ellinghausen / AAP Image/ Sydney Morning Herald Pool

A rallying crime

For a country that loves invoking the virtues of wartime sacrifice, why have our leaders failed to appeal to the greater good during the pandemic?

Photo of installation view of the exhibition Camille Henrot: Is Today Tomorrow at NGV International. Photo © Tom Ross

Simultaneous persuasions: ‘Camille Henrot: Is Today Tomorrow’

Radical difference and radical proximity are hallmarks of the French-born artist’s NGV exhibition

Still from The White Lotus. © Mario Perez / HBO

Petty bourgeoisie: ‘The White Lotus’

Mike White’s scathing takedown of privilege leads July’s streaming highlights

Cover image of The Airways

Body and soul: ‘The Airways’

Fusing elements of crime fiction and ghost stories, Jennifer Mills’ latest novel is an interrogation of gender, power and consent