Minidress by Merivale

Made by Merivale in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1960-1970.

Fashion in the 1960s was moving away from the unnaturally contrived silhouette of the cinched waist and voluminous petticoats synonymous with 1950s fashion. Dress shapes in the 1960s were simple with clean lines. The clothing featured in the collection embodies the essence of what was considered in the 1960s to be modern, youthful, daring and with the advent of the mini skirt, somewhat shocking. The garments are feminine in design, less structured and reflect the aesthetics and values of a burge...


Object No.


Physical Description

Womens mustard wool mini dress with round neckline, yoke, drop waist and long sleeves with side zipper fastening. Dress features shirring in contrasting thread on cuffs and drop waist and cross stitch decoration on neckline. The cuffs fasten with a black plastic button and the centre back opening fastens with a metal press stud. The dress is machine sewn and unlined.


Four white fabric labels inside back neck 'HOUSE OF MERIVALE/SYDNEY', 'DRY CLEAN ONLY', 'ALL WOOL', 'XXSSW'.



430 mm



This inexpensive wool mini dress was designed by Merivale for the House of Merivale label. John Hemmes, son of a Dutch doctor, met Merivale Brennan on board a ship and after a whirlwind shipboard romance, the couple married in a registry office in London.

On their return to Australia, Merivale made hats and John took on labouring jobs. In the late1950s, disillusioned with other people profiting from their hard work, John and Merivale decided to start their own business, named The House of Merivale, in the Theatre Royal on Castlereagh Street, eventually moving in 1969 to the landmark six-level Victorian building on Pitt Street, Sydney.

The House of Merivale promoted fashion that was inspired by London's boutique culture featuring a fusion of fashion, pop music and art in an atmosphere that was dynamic and fun. The House of Merivale was committed to designing 'modern clothes for people with a zest for life.' The House of Merivale revolutionised young people's fashion and shopping experience.

The House of Merivale specialised in affordable clothing for the fashion savvy eighteen to twenty-five year old teeny boppers, stocking selected imports like Roslyn Yehuda and clothes designed by young innovative Australian designers including Prue Acton, Norma Tullo and Kenneth Pirrie. It was the first store in Australia to stock the mini.

Within the first few years, The House of Merivale stocked exclusively the self-taught Merivale's original designs, manufactured locally from their own factory and producing around twenty-five new garments each week. In the late seventies The House of Merivale had a shop on Elizabeth Street where they sold seconds and samples they had brought from overseas to copy.

Clothing designed by Merivale attracted a notable clientele including Marlene Dietrich, Cher, Liza Minelli, Mick Jagger, Jose Feliciano and Eddie Fisher.

John and Merivale Hemmes retired from the fashion industry late 1995, choosing to devote their creative energies and business acumen to the expansion of the Merivale Group. With son Justin and daughter Bettina, the Merivale Group is successfully building a hospitality and entertainment empire that includes bar restaurants such as the Establishment, Lotus and Slip Inn.


Merivale 1960-1970


Credit Line

Gift of Carmen McGreal, 2007

Acquisition Date

4 June 2007

Cite this Object


Minidress by Merivale 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 September 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Minidress by Merivale |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 September 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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