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99/6/17 Dress, womens, 'Wattle', mohair, designed by Jenny Kee, Australia, 1977. Click to enlarge.

‘Wattle’ dress by Jenny Kee

Made 1977
Jenny Kee collection of clothing, textiles, artwork and archive, Australia/England/Japan/Africa/USA 1967-1995

Jenny Kee (born Sydney 1947) is one of Australia's most important designers, best known for designing and retailing a unique range of colourful clothing and knitwear. One major theme links all aspects of this collection, Jenny Kee's love of Australia's unique natural environment. Her garments are a canvas for her artwork featuring images of native flora and fauna, the opal gem stone and urban icons like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

The Jenny Kee collection and archive was acquired by the museum in 1998 and 1999. They document the evolution of her clothing and textile designs, the creative process behind her designs, the development and management of her retail outlets Flamingo Park and Jenny Kee, the significant role she played in environmental activism in Australia and her public profile as a celebrity artist with-in the advertising industry.

The collection and archive document her life and work over twenty years and includes clothing and textiles by Jenny Kee as well as Kee's business partner Linda Jackson (b. 1950), original artwork for many of Kee's designs, business records, newspaper and magazine clippings, videos of parades, parade invitations, props and programmes, shop mannequins, shop signs, scrapbooks and posters.

The collection and archive not only records Jenny Kee's life and work, but also can be read as a document that charts important cultural changes in Australia. Kee was born in Bondi, to a Cantonese businessman father and Italian/British mother. An early newspaper clipping shows her modelling as the face of Canadian Airlines. In the 1960s, she, like many other young Australians, spent several years enjoying the creative atmosphere of 'Swinging London'. She returned to Australia in the early 1970s and attracted by the encouraging cultural climate of the new Whitlam led Labor government, decided to stay. Kee then opened her Flamingo Park' 'frock salon' in the Strand Arcade in Sydney selling her own designs as well as the work of other innovative designers like Linda Jackson, Peter Tully (1947-1992) and David McDiarmid (1952-1995). Many of the pieces sold through the shop are included in the collection as well as signage, programmes and videos of the lively parades she and Linda Jackson produced.

The collection preserves a unique record of this important designer's personal and professional career from the 1960s through to 1995.

Summary

Object No.

99/6/17

Object Statement

Dress, womens, 'Wattle', mohair, designed by Jenny Kee, Australia, 1977

Physical Description

Calf length loose fitting knitted dress featuring wattle motif worked in yellow, green, brown and grey on a blue ground. Dress has a roll neck and long sleeves.

Production

Made

1977

Notes

Jenny Kee, Australia. [Made after Kee was involved in the Granville Train Disaster. Kee had wanted to do a knit including a wattle motif, and had just moved to a new home, 'Westhill', set amid native bushland in Blackheath.]
'Wattle' became one of her best known designs.

Jenny Kee used a number of home-based hand knitters to knit garments. She would provide them with designs and wool swatches for each colour.

History

Notes

Featured in Italian Vogue and Womens' Wear Daily.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1999

Acquisition Date

3 February 1999

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Wattle' dress by Jenny Kee 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 6 July 2020, <https://ma.as/167405>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/167405 |title='Wattle' dress by Jenny Kee |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=6 July 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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