Australian fashion designer, Jenny Kee, designed this knitted 'Luna Park' dress around 1980 for her fashion label, Flamingo Park. Its bold design is characteristic of Kee's knits, whose bright colours and Australian motifs gave them enormous appeal.
In the mid 1970s Jenny Kee began to forge a unique vision of Australian dress, one that didn't look to the trend-driven fashion mainstream for inspiration but drew on Australia's cultural and natural landscape and the art of Indigenous Australians. It was not a purist expression of Australian identity, but one that melded an eclectic assortment of elements drawn from colour theory, art history, theatre, Chinese opera, Buddhism, European haute couture and the dress and textiles of other cultural and indigenous groups. Her work was never simply an enthusiastic sourcing of ingredients from a local and global supermarket of styles, but drew on emotional, spiritual and aesthetic responses to the causes and communities that inspired her, and that she in turn supported.
Jenny Kee studied fashion design and worked as a model before leaving Australia in 1965 for 'Swinging London', where she met up with a coterie of other young expats, dubbed by the local press the 'Downundergrounders'. She returned to Australia in 1972 and opened her Flamingo Park 'frock salon' in Sydney in 1973. With its mix of art, retro kitsch and original clothing, knitwear and textile designs by Kee and her friend and fellow designer Linda Jackson, Flamingo Park became an artistic hub and held sensational fashion events, dubbed the Flamingo Follies parades, each year.
In the early 1980s Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson decided to pursue different directions. Kee continued to design for Flamingo Park and later opened her Jenny Kee shop, while Jackson visited central Australia and the Indigenous community at Utopia Station and returned to Sydney to establish her 'Bush Couture' label.
Kee has given the Museum her extensive personal archive, including artwork, scrapbooks, media clippings, photographs, videos and business records. In acquiring the collection, the Museum recognised not only her significant contribution to Australian fashion, craft and design, but also the impact that shifts in Australia's cultural and political climate had on her work.
Glynis Jones, Curator, 2007