All images – collection of Kate Lambourne
One of the great pleasures (and great frustrations) of a project like The Dress Circle, is the new information that inevitably comes to light too late to be included within the finished book. Throughout our research process new labels and names continued to emerge, right up to and beyond the deadlines for images and manuscripts. Although on one hand one of the hardest parts of the process is to realise that the information just can’t make it to the printers, it is also a great delight when someone contacts you with the missing peice of the puzzle regardless of when it happens to arrive. We knew that this would happen once The Dress Circle was published and so have been waiting with baited breath to see what hidden treasures that might arrive in the wake of the book.
Shortly after the book was published we received a charming letter from one Kate Lambourne, congratulating us on the finished product. In her letter, Kate mentioned that she had worked in the Trilby Yates salon in the late 40s and early 50s, later pursuing a career as a fashion model. Sensing an untapped information source, we immediately made contact to ask about her experiences of the salon, which remains an important area of local fashion research. Kate’s reply revealed both an insiders perspective on the character (and characters) of the salon, as well as a wealth of new photographs of both the staff and designs of Trilby Yates – A Ladies Paradise.
Kate added in some important new information about the people behind the salon, conjuring up a real sense of the formidible force that was Julia Yates. Recalling her first experience of a Tribly Yates season opening, Kate writes ‘titled ladies, some from Australia, gathered outsite for opening time and when the doors were flung open I was pushed aside and all but stepped on. Women in full bling fighting over a garment – and in one case a dress was torn apart. Julia would watch from her office chuckling away at the behaviour downstairs.’
Kate also helpfully gave a name to another key designer behind Trilby Yates, noting that it was June Gould (nee Todd) who came into a design role following the departure of Nancy Hudson (Huddy) for Melbourne in the late 1940s. June (known as Toddles) was the designer while Kate herself undertook her apprenticship, which began with ‘making tea, picking up pins off the floor and taking the hefty rubbish bins down two flights of treacherous steps’. Kate gradually graduated to making her own designs under the Trilby Yates Ltd label, as well as taking sole charge of the salon on Friday nights.
Here’s another new images of what we think are Tribly Yates designs, although a little more research is needed to confirm this.
Kate’s letters have loads more exciting infomation about Trilby Yates, which I’ll save for another day. As well, she included some other images from her days as a high fashion model. While we can look at them in detail another time, here’s one that was particuarly exciting for us. The image comes from a Woman’s Weekly photoshoot of Hall Ludlow Model garments from 1961, which Douglas put considerable efforts into sourcing original photographs to no avail. As these were key images, they went into The Dress Circle as magazine scans (p.78 top left), so it is with pleasure we were able to finally locate an original in all its glory.