Art History: From Isfahan to London and Paris
From Isfahan to London and Paris
Presenter: Dolla Merrillees
Fashion illustrations of the 19th and 20th century were most often associated with the promotion and advertisement of fashion designers, fashion houses and department stores. Today they have become an important part of a fashion house’s heritage and brand, and exhibitions such as Drawing Fashion at the Design Museum, London (2010) and Fashion Illustration: The Visionaries, A Century of Illustrations from the Frances Neady Collection, at the Society of Illustrators, NYC (2020) have featured the art of such well known fashion illustrators as Georges Lepape, René Gruau, Henry Koehler and Antonio Lopez. Less well known are the stories behind some of the amateur women artists who used their pens and brushes and their own personal experiences to capture the flare and spirit of their times. This paper considers a series of original fashion illustrations from the 1940s that were inherited by the author in 2019. These illustrations were hand drawn and painted in London by Parvine Helen Merrillees (née Razavi) who was of Iranian and Irish descent. The drawings reveal a story of post war Britain, of an immigrant family straddling East and West and of the ambitions and hopes of a young woman who was aware of expanding opportunities but also navigating prejudice as a person of mixed race and divided identity.
Dolla Merrillees is a curator, independent researcher and published author. Merrillees was the former Director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS). Merrillees spearheaded the establishment of the MAAS Centre for Fashion, the first such centre of excellence in an Australian cultural institution, and developed a program of fashion exhibitions including A Fine Possession: Jewellery and identity (2014); Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced (2015); and Love Is: Australian Wedding Fashion (2017). In 2020 Merrillees guest curated Thủy Nguyễn: An Everyday Dream (2020) at the Factory Contemporary Art Centre, HCMC, an exhibition exploring the creative practice of Vietnamese fashion designer Thủy Nguyễn. Merrillees is one of six global emissaries and London correspondent for Sherman Centre for Culture and Ideas. Her most recent interviews include Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE, RDI and Andrew Logan.
This event will be held online via Zoom.
Upcoming seminars this semester:
Mimi Kelly, “New Refractions of Self: Social Media and the Digital Woman”
Diana Reynolds, “Religious Foundations as Second Voices: The Victoria Contemporary Figurative Artist, 1848-1870”