Historical information

The Fashion & Design collection of the Kew Historical Society includes examples of women’s, men’s, children’s and infants’ clothing from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Items in the collection were largely produced for, or purchased by women in Melbourne, and includes examples of outerwear, protective wear, nightwear, underwear and costume accessories. This polonaise is part of the Netta Fuller Collection.


Netta Fuller and her husband Alec were long-term residents of Kew. As a boy, Alec had attended East Kew Primary School and was later highly involved in the Kew Presbyterian Church during the 1950s and 60s. Netta's passion was for historic clothing and its exhibition. In 1985, Netta Fuller and Elizabeth Pace launched a parade of garments sponsored by Kew Historical Society at Holy Trinity Church, Kew. The parade was called 'Downunder Dressmakers' and included a collection of over fifty items of clothing dating from 1800 to 1984. The collection included dresses, hats, scarfs, capes, sporting costumes etc. The core of the parade consisted of a collection of 19th century costumes worn by the ancestors of a Miss Gertrude Murray, a resident of Blackburn. In sourcing items for her collections, Netta Fuller collected costumes stored in old trunks and wardrobes, or even purchased from opportunity shops. (During the period in which she collected and exhibited costumes, the latter could often be a reliable source for the purchase of historic and aesthetically significant costumes.) Not satisfied with purchasing authentic costumes of the period, Netta also used these as models for artistic recreations. Following her retirement from both collecting and exhibiting, Netta Fuller donated a number of 19th Century garments to the Kew Historical Society's costume collection. A number of garments were parts of costumes such as bodices, while others were complete outfits. Some of the latter exhibit signs of old damage, however very few of the costumes had been modified to enable them to be worn in exhibitions. Provenance, apart from that the costumes were donated by Netta Fuller after 1985 is limited to donor information, although some of her donations may have originally been part of the collection owned by the Murray family. While the costumes are old and therefore historic, provenance is less important than the representativeness and/or rarity of the costumes. Similarly, the costumes need to be evaluated as a group and separately, considering their aesthetic and artistic significance as well a their age.

Physical description

Long train of cream, watered silk taffeta lined with silk net. The shattered silk train is believed to date to the 1880s.