Inside the Collection

Catherine Martin’s Moulin Rouge Ensemble

Moulin Rouge, Sydney Premiere Ensemble
Moulin Rouge, Sydney Premiere Ensemble, Powerhouse Museum, 2011.43.54

This ‘Object of the Day’ outfit is from a collection of high-end International and Australian designed clothing and accessories from Catherine Martin’s personal wardrobe. Acquired in 2011, by curator Glynis Jones, the outfit consists of an overdress with separate slip, a jacket and a shawl. It was designed and made by Australian fashion designer, Collette Dinnigan, in Sydney, Australia. The shoes were designed by Jimmy Choo, London, and made in Italy.

Jimmy Choo gold shoe with red flower
Shoes designed by Jimmy Choo, London, Powerhouse Museum, 2011.43.54

Catherine Martin is a significant figure in the Arts. She has worked as a costume designer, production designer and producer on major blockbuster film, theatre and event productions with her business partner and husband, Baz Luhrmann. Her film work includes, ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘Australia’, ‘Romeo + Juliet’, ‘Strictly Ballroom’ and ‘La Bohème’. She is a pioneer for Australian women in the film industry, winning two ‘Oscar’s’ at the 74th Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.

Close up of Moulin Rouge Sydney Opening Ensemble floral embroidery

I chose this outfit because it was worn by Catherine Martin to the Sydney opening of the blockbuster film ‘Moulin Rouge’ and reflects the drama and femininity of the costumes, she created in the film. The brightly coloured floral patterns, the sequins, and the elaborate, purple fur shawl combined together, can be interpreted as a ‘real life’ version of the showgirl costumes in the film.

The Registration Department is responsible for the information management, location and hazard control of all the objects acquired by the Powerhouse Museum. As an intern assisting in this department, my role is cataloguing the garments and accessories from Martin’s personal wardrobe. The clothing includes work by well known designers such as Chanel, Mui Mui, Sergio Rossi, Jimmy Choo, Collette Dinnigan, Willow, Easton Pearson, Akira Isogawa, Manolo Blahnik, Jill Sander, Comme des Garçons and Prada. As well as cataloguing Martin’s personal wardrobe, I am cataloguing film costumes from the many Catherine Martin / Baz Lurhmann productions, acquired at the same time by curator, Glynis Jones.

Cataloguing involves listing the individual parts of a whole object, describing the object’s physical traits, labelling the objects and assessing the condition of the object. Although cataloguing this collection is time-consuming, because everything I see in this collection is so beautiful, it hardly seems like work.

Post by Powerhouse Intern, Charlotte Stevenson

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