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2011/43/76 Dress, womens, cotton corduroy, designed and made by Akira Isogawa, worn by Catherine Martin, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2004. Click to enlarge.

Akira cotton batik dress

This shift dress constructed from asymmetrical panels in green, red and peach tones and over embroiderd with bold floral motifs was designed by Akira Isogawa, Sydney, in 2004. It is part of a collection of Australian and international designer clothing, shoes and bags from the personal wardrobe of Catherine Martin.

Catherine Martin is one of Australia's outstanding creative talents, working as a production designer, film producer and costume designer on significant film, theatre and event productions including Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, La Bohème and Australia. Martin's creative collaboration with husband Baz Luhrmann has produced a visually lush, musically exhilarating, poetic style of storytelling.

Her personal wardrobe reflects Martin's romantic style, knowledge of fashion history and passion for handcrafted, artisanal textiles; an aesthetic that is also a key part of her designs for film, theatre, interior design and fashion. The collection includes outfits Martin wore to premiers and award nights including the evening dress she wore to the 74th Academy Awards where she received two Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.

Catherine Martin's personal wardrobe enhances the Museum's contemporary fashion and dress collection with significant examples of work from Australian and international designer labels including Easton Pearson, Collette Dinnigan, Willow, Akira Isogawa, Chanel, Mui Mui, Jill Sander, Comme des Garçons and Prada.

In addition the Catherine Martin collection includes a group of costumes and accessories from the films Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Australia (2008), set models from the film Australia (2008) and costumes and accessories from the theatre production of Puccini's opera La Boheme (2003). A key feature of these productions is the costuming and sets which reflect the extensive research and inventive interpretation of references drawn from across history and cultures. These costumes enhance the Museum's existing collection of costumes for the Baz Luhrmann films Strictly Ballroom (1992) (92/1900-92/1939) and Moulin Rouge! (2001) (2008/199/1-17).

This collection reflects the diverse approaches Martin and her team take in costuming film and theatre productions. In Romeo + Juliet, Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo wears an off the shelf Prada shirt that has been skillfully distressed to appear dirty and bloodied, while his companions the Montague boys appear in colourful screenprinted and handpainted Hawaiian shirts. The Australia costumes reflect the design and production teams' careful research into 1930s and 1940s clothing which they have skilfully re-interpreted and reproduced for the film. In contrast the costumes for the four key characters from La Bohème are an eclectic mix of contemporary mass market workwear, designer labels and newly created garments.

- Glynis Jones, Curator, Fashion and Dress, December 2010


Object No.


Object Statement

Dress, womens, cotton corduroy, designed and made by Akira Isogawa, worn by Catherine Martin, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2004

Physical Description

Shift dress constructed from asymmetrical panels of cotton batik fabrics in green, red and peach tones over embroidered with bold floral and foliate design worked in a thick peach coloured thread with some threads left dangling. Dress has sleeveless bodice with U shaped neckline and centre back zipper fastening, A line skirt to asymmetrical hem. Pieced lining including a heavy embroidered corduroy fabric. All edges left raw except for hem.


Cloth labels at centre back
Black cloth label - "Akira" and 3
White cloth label 1oo% cotton and laundering instructions



460 mm



Designed as part of the Akira Spring-Summer 2004-5 collection.



Purchased from the Akira Isogawa look book.

Catherine Martin was born in Sydney in 1965. She completed a Diploma Design course at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney. It was here that she met and started working on projects with her future husband and creative partner Baz Luhrmann (b 1962).

Martin's first design project with Luhrmann was his experimental opera entitled Lake Lost devised for the Australian Opera in 1987, for which she and her co-designer Angus Strathie won a Victorian Green Room Award for Best Design. She has designed all of Luhrmann's subsequent productions including Strictly Ballroom (1992), Romeo + Juliet (1996) for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction, A Midsummer Night's Dream (various season's 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2003) Moulin Rouge (2001) for which Martin won Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and best Production Design, La Bohème (various productions, 1990, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2003, 2004) and Australia (2008).

Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann married in 1997 and in the same year co-founded their film, theatre and entertainment production company Bazmark Inq and its subsidiaries Bazmark Live and Bazmark Music.


Credit Line

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Catherine Martin, 2011

Acquisition Date

21 June 2011

Cite this Object


Akira cotton batik dress 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 November 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Akira cotton batik dress |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 November 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}