Published: Tue 2 Oct 2012

The Australian War Memorial, inspired by Floriade’s 2012 theme of Style and Design, is proud to display a recently conserved colonial uniform that indirectly reveals the influence military uniforms have had on fashion.

A unique object in the Memorial’s collection,the ceremonial tunic exhibits distinctive gold braiding, gilded buttons and epaulettes – a look that has inspired fashion trends internationally.

The tunic, part of the full dress uniform of the Adelaide Lancers, was once worn by the Earl of Kintore, Sir Algernon Hawkins Thomond Keith-Falconer (1852–1930).The Earl of Kintore was appointed Governor of South Australia in 1889 and returned to Britain in 1895.

In what has truly become a “labour of love”, the tunic has been worked on by a succession of Memorial conservators over the past 20 years.

Textile conservator Jessie Firth spent hundreds of hours delicately stitching a facing of silk crepeline to the tunic’s lining with one of the finest yarns, monofilament silk thread.

“Despite being time consuming and labourintensive it is very satisfying to have completed the treatment and to finally be able to display the tunic in all its glory,”said Firth.

“When looking at the Earl of Kintore’s Adelaide Lancers tunic, the influence military uniforms have had upon fashion becomes clear.”

The tunic was used for ceremonial occasions. Its rich red fabric and dominant gold embellishments were typical of the British Empire’s ceremonial dress.

The origins of the modern military fashion trends are said to have emerged in Britain during the 1960s, at a time when the “mod” culture popularised clothing from thrift stores that abounded in second-hand military clothing.

International designers such Burberry, Balmain, Ralph Lauren, and Australia’s own Lisa Ho have all embraced the military trend and reinterpreted it into their designs.

The tunic is on display in the Memorial’s Orientation Gallery for the duration of Floriade.

At 11.30 am each Friday, until 12 October, join Memorial staff for a special talk that looks at fashions and uniforms in the Memorial collection and how the influences have changed over the course of our history.



Tom Vasey           (02) 6243 4575     0409 600 038