Australian dress register ID:199
Owner:Museum of the Riverina
Owner registration number:BGS2005.33
Date range:1935 - 1940
Place of origin:Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
Pauline Harvey's dance costume is of historic significance. It is a good example of a World War II stage costume; quickly and crudely made from whatever fabrics were available, and probably not intended to last for a long time - there being no necessity for it to survive the wear and tear of everyday living.
During her expansive career, Pauline has had numerous costumes, many made either by her mother, or herself. During (or immediately following) the War, Pauline had a Carmen Miranda costume. This was a great example of a costume made using initiative, with scrap fabrics being used, and papier mache fruit constructed for the headpiece. Unfortunately this particular costume was disposed, which caused the Museum to move quickly on acquiring Pauline's other wartime costumes. The Museum acquired Pauline's Carabost Cup winning ensemble (including fingerless tulle sequinned gloves), a gypsy gown and a two-piece Persian Dance costume, complete with silver wood scimitar!
Pauline Harvey is not only a well-known local identity, she is one of those uniquely individual and enduring Wagga characters. She learned to dance at the school of the legendary Miss Madge Wallace, who, by the 1930s, had ten dance schools scattered throughout the Riverina, and became known as one of Australia's leading dance instructors. Pauline Harvey is a contemporary of some distinguished pupils of the Madge Wallace School of Dance, including veteran actor Bill Kerr (Wagga), Borovansky ballerina Kathleen Gorman (Narrandera) and Borovansky ballerina Mary Duchesne (Cowra). Author: Michelle A. Maddison, 12th November 2009.
Pale blue underskirt, with pale blue ruffles at hemline. Two, pale pink, diamond shaped inserts, with gold sequin edging, at centre front section of underskirt. Pale pink 'bo-peep' style over-skirt. Sleeveless, fitted bodice, with two pale blue, diamond shaped inserts, with metallic gold sequin edging. Large, round, pale pink collar, with narrow, pale blue ruffle trim. Centre back opening, with hand-stitched loops & metal hook fastenings.
History and Provenance
Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information
Pauline Kenyon was born c. 1930. She started dancing in Wagga Wagga, aged 5. As a pupil of highly renowned Australian teacher Miss Madge Wallace, Pauline learnt ballet, tap, clog, national, demi-character, song and dance, Irish and Highland dancing and acrobatics. Along with the Studio's annual concert, performing in the City of Wagga Eisteddfod was the highlight of the dance calendar for Pauline. Long hours of practice were put in and costumes were designed by Miss Wallace and mothers of the dancers. In 1945, aged 15, Pauline auditioned successfully for the Tivoli Theatre in Sydney. Her professional dancing career began in 1946 when she toured in stage productions, appearing in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and New Zealand. Pauline returned to Wagga in the early 1950s, where she established herself as a dance teacher. Pauline also took on the role of instructing girls entered in the Miss Wagga Quest etiquette skills. Still actively performing today, at the age of 79 Pauline is a member of the popular Timeless Tappers group. Pauline married William Wade Gordon [Horsley] in 1950, aged 19 (which due to her age, required her parent's written consent). As both Pauline and William were in the entertainment industry, their marriage failed due to time apart. They had one child, daughter Lee Gordon, who today, lives in Wagga. Having divorced, and returned to Wagga Wagga, Pauline married her second husband, Vincent Francis Harvey in 1958.
Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?
"For as long as I can remember I have loved dancing and performing. My mother used to pay five shillings every week during the Depression for me to have private dance lessons from the time I was five." [Pauline Harvey, The Good Life, The Daily Advertiser, Wednesday 31 August 2005]
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
Pauline had 'it-girl' status in the theatre during the 1940s.
Where did this information come from?
Information received from Mrs Pauline Harvey, who is still resident in Wagga Wagga. Further details were recorded in a number of articles, mainly published by local newspaper The Daily Advertiser.
This garment has been exhibited
This garment has not been exhibited at the Museum. It was briefly exhibited on a mannequin at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney for an Australian Dress Register workshop which was attended by museum workers from across NSW.
Place of origin:
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
Pauline Harvey (nee Kenyon)
Dance competition, Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod Society
Many of Pauline's costumes were home made by her mother. The Carabost Cup costume was however made in Sydney.
The making and trimming of these costumes during WWII presented Pauline's mother with problems in regard to the rationing restrictions placed on fabric and trims. According to Pauline, several 'under the counter' deals were made by her mother to buy enough sequins for one costume. Other costumes needed to resized and adapted because of the shortage of luxury fabrics at that time.
Pauline has not only kept these costumes from her early dancing days, but she has continued to wear them, up until recent times. This has necessitated the letting out of bust and waist lines, as Pauline's body shape has changed over the last fifty years.
Pauline Harvey (nee Kenyon)
Trimmings / Decoration
Machine appliqued blue taffeta with diamond shapes. Centre front outlined with clear gold sequins around the edge. Reverse colour pattern on main skirt, pink diamonds and gold sequins on blue ground.
Dress front has a double ruffle along the hem, and a blue ruffle on the pink collar of dress.
Dress back has a single ruffle along the skirt hem, the top (or over) skirt is ruched at centre back.
Fibre / Weave
1. Pink and blue
2. Possibly Acetate
4. Taffeta bodice and under and over-skirts
Sequins applied to centre and middle of bodice and skirt
- Natural dye
- Synthetic dye
There is both machine and hand sewing on this garment.
Costume is home-made
There do not appear to be any visible signs of alteration. Many of Pauline's costumes were altered for her continued wearing long after she returned to Wagga Wagga in 1950 - for dress-ups, social events and performances, but as this was a child's garment, it wasn't worn again.
- Hand sewn
- Machine sewn
Garment has hook and eyes running down the back of bodice.
- Hook and eye
|Front neck to hem||540 mm|
|Front waist to hem||300 mm|
|Back neck to hem||550 mm|
|Back waist to hem||340 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||75 mm|
|Underarm to underarm||335 mm|
|Convert to inches|
This dress was worn by Pauline in a dance performance given in Wagga Wagga prior to World War II. Pauline was probably aged around 5 or 6 at the time.
Other related objects
The Pauline Harvey collection is one of the most extensive within the Museum of the Riverina. The collection comprises:
* Costumes and associated accessories
* Suitcase set used by Pauline as a Tivoli dancer
* Wooden make-up box made for Pauline by her grandfather, to take on the road as a Tivoli dancer
* Paper based material
* Trophies and certificates
* Children's clothing made by Pauline for her daughter, Lee
* Pauline's 1950 wedding dress, fascinator and crocodile shoes
* Items relating to Wagga Wagga - for example: a ledger from the Oxford Furnishing Company, where Pauline's second husband worked
* Some general items from Pauline's life in Wagga Wagga - the painted wooden moneybox she had as a child, a Melbourne 1956 Olympics puzzle, her yellow 1960s Sunbeam Mixmaster
Pauline's costume is crudely made for stage use only. Dresses such as these were often not of durable fabrics, intended for the wear and tear of everyday living. It is remarkable that this dress has survived in the condition it is in. There are two main areas with surface stains - the bodice, and the underskirt hemline (see Images 1 and 2). There is a grease spot on the right hand over-skirt, and a small worn patch on the right hand underskirt. The garment is very creased, and its appearance would benefit from these creases being attended to.
Evidence of repairs
There are no obvious evidence of repairs to the garment.
There are two small holes under the right armpit. These may be damage from insects.