The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
2015/29/1 Wedding ensemble, consisting of bodice, skirt, train and cape, womens, silk / satin / lace / cotton / wool, made by Farmer & Co, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1885. Click to enlarge.

Silk brocade wedding ensemble made by Farmer & Co

Featuring a very slender silhouette with an elaborate skirt pulled back and draped over a back bustle, this dress provides valuable insight into 1880s Australian designed and made fashion. The dress is significant for its connection to one of Sydney's most prominent and leading business houses. Established in 1839, Farmers & Co remained an innovative and influential commercial and social institution in Sydney through to the 1980s.

By the 19th century weddings became increasingly more …


Object No.


Object Statement

Wedding ensemble, consisting of bodice, skirt, train and cape, womens, silk / satin / lace / cotton / wool, made by Farmer & Co, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1885

Physical Description

Wedding ensemble consisting of bodice, skirt, train and cape.

Bodice is made of silk satin, is tightly fitting and includes fullness for bustle at centre back. It is secured with twenty cream satin covered buttons are centre front. Princess seaming highlights the pointed centre front of the fully boned bodice. A high stand collar features a lace jabot trim. Long bracelet length curved shaped sleeves with cuffs trimmed with lace flounces. A label with the words "Farmer & Co. Sydney" is attached to the inside waistband.

A skirt, made of silk satin features rows of ruching and knife pleats at the base of skirt, which sits over box pleats hem. The skirt has a plain cotton twill waistband, which is secured with two hooks and eye fastenings at the centre back. Skirt is lined with cotton and there is a pocket on the right hand side.

A train, made of silk satin, attaches around the waist of the skirt, under bodice.

A cape, made of silk satin, semi-circular in shape.



This wedding gown, cape and train made by Farmer & Co, around 1880, is machine made and hand sewn featuring silk brocade which is a richly decorative shuttle woven fabric. Derived from the Italian, 'broccato' meaning 'embossed cloth', brocade fabric is typically woven on a draw loom using the supplementary weft technique of non-structural weft plus stand weft which holds the threads together so the fabric appears embroidered. Associated with luxury and opulence, clothing made from brocade fabric was an indication of status.

Farmer & Co was established as a dressmaking and millinery store in Pitt St, Sydney in 1839 by 'bounty migrants' Joseph Farmer (1814-1890) and his wife Caroline. In March 1848, William Farmer (1832-1908) arrived from England to join his uncle, Joseph, in Sydney. William was to eventually succeed Joseph and took control of the firm in partnership with William Williams and Francis Giles. During the next 40 years the Farmers collaborated with a diverse range of partners prior to becoming Farmer & Co in 1869.

Between 1928 and 1957, Farmer & Co built their new retail emporium located on the corner of George Street and Market Street. The structure included an art gallery, roof garden and restaurant. A well known landmark in Sydney's central business district, the store traded as Grace Brothers from 1983-2004 and is currently owned by Melbourne retail giant, Myer.

London Gazette, no. 26606, London, p.1455, 12 March 1895, retrieved November 2010
Seller-Baldinger, Annemarie. Textiles: A classification of techniques, Crawford House Press, Bathurst, 1994, p. 98
Walsh, G P. Farmer, Sir William (1832-1908), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 4, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne,1972, pp. 153-154 retrieved November 2010



The wedding gown including cape and train was purchased by the donor's father at a Lawson's auction in the 1970s. Artwork and silverware were obtained at the same time indicating that the dress may have been included in a job lot.


Credit Line

Gift of Edwina O'Donnell, 2015

Acquisition Date

12 May 2015

Cite this Object


Silk brocade wedding ensemble made by Farmer & Co 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 29 July 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Silk brocade wedding ensemble made by Farmer & Co |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=29 July 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}