Historical information

Norma Tullo began her dressmaking business in 1956. At the age of 20, she rented a small shop in the Metropole Arcade, initiating a career that included manufacturing, designing and retailing. In 1965, she became the first Australian to be selected by Butterick Company Inclusive to join their pattern making company. The stylish Tullo ‘look’ in the first half of the 1960s was young, colourful, feminine and most importantly had a strong American appeal. The patterns were distributed worldwide except to Russia and Germany. In the second half of the 1960s, she developed a new design range, influenced by the American 'hippie' style, featuring floor length dresses with long narrow sleeves, high round collars, and ruffles on the hems and at the cuffs. Patterns and colours became brighter to match prevailing tastes.
Patricia Desmarchelier, the donor, purchased this and two other items of evening wear by Norma Tullo in a Brisbane CBD boutique fashion store during 1967/8 for her personal use. At the time, she was an undergraduate student who saved earnestly to buy the outfits to wear to college formals and balls that were popular during those years.


Aesthetically significant and rare example of a couture range by Norma Tullo.

Physical description

Long red cotton evening dress with overall white polka-dots, designed by Norma Tullo. The floor length dress has a high rounded collar, long sleeves with ruffles at the cuffs and on the hem. The light-weight cotton outer layer is supported by a thick cotton underlayer. Atypically, the dress has a label stating it is an example of 'Tullo Couture'.
Shoulder width 40cm
Bust: 92cm
Waist: 72cm

Inscriptions & markings