Adelaide designer Paul Vasileff's scene embroidered gown, with tulle and metal beading, from the autumn/winter 2017-18 collection for his Paolo Sebastian fashion design company. At the Art Gallery of South Australia, a gift of the gallery foundation fashion fund 2017.

as the state's dress fashion skills keep on improving by degrees 


DRESS FASHION DESIGNER PAUL VASILEFF, whose label Paolo Sebastian graced international runways and has been worn by celebrities around the world, is proving that Adelaide can be the base for a global venture.

In less than 10 years, Vasileff has managed to turn his label into one of Australia's leading couture houses. He was named the 2017 Australian of the Year.

Vasileff studied fashion at Europeo Istituto di Design in Milan but homesickness drew him back to Adelaide.

He finds that the internet has enabled him to connect with a world market and grow from a one-man business to havinga team of 15.

Vasileff also has benefitted from the growth of a fashion industry in Adelaide that now hosts a fashion festival.

Budding fashion designers can also study fashion at university level in Adelaide, rather than having to move interstate.

Where South Australia previously was losing talented designers, TAFE SA and Flinders University teamed up to offer the state's first bachelor degree in fashion, a move that has led to an increase in fashion graduates this year.

The inaugural graduating class of the new course will exhibit its garments at the graduate fashion parade and most students were confident their future would be in Adelaide.



as the legacy of an influx of enterprising 19th Century individuals

Penman & Gaibraith bring lithography to Adelaide, used by Alexander Schramm

Lithographers John Penman and William Gaibraith, who founded their business in Adelaide in 1849, enabled early colonial South Australia’s most accomplished professional painter Alexander Schramm to reproduce his works. A booksellers’ son, Penman had been apprenticed to Glasgow lithographers Allen and Fergusson. In 1845, Penman went to Liverpool and then London where he lithographed railway plans and met William Gaibraith. They noticed a pamphlet on South Australia by John Stephens of the Adelaide Observer and South Australian Register extolling a place where "butter was so plentiful and so cheap that most people were in the habit of greasing their boots with it". The two young men decided to emigrate to this “touch of Paradise” and arrived on the Hoogley at Port Adelaide in 1848. Penman bought printing material from George Hamilton, a clerk in the Treasury and amateur draftsman and painter, and set up offices with Gaibraith in Grenfell Street, Adelaide.  In 1862, they were advertising their business as: “Penman and Galbraith Lithographers, Engravers and Copper-Plate Printers, 60 Rundle St, Adelaide." Other addresses of the firm moved from Grenfell, Pirie. Rundle and Currie streets before their partnership dissolved in 1885. Penman set as "Lithographer & Engraver" in Pirie Street and continued until 1890. Galbraith probably worked with his son William, with the name "Galbraith & Son, engravers and lithographers" of Gresham Street, Adelaide, appearing in 1886. William Galbraith also is recorded until his death as a lithographer in Charles Street, Norwood. His son William continued at various addresses as an engraver, lithographic artist, or lithographer until 1918.


Augustus Molton takes on framing skill of David Culley, a founder of Adelaide Art Society

Augustus Molton, who came to Australia and then South Australia in about 1856, worked for David Culley, Adelaide's first professional picture frame maker, carver and gilder, in Flinders Street. Culley, who’d arrived in Adelaide in 1849, became the honorary agent in South Australia for the Art Unions of London, Glasgow and Edinburgh. He was one of the originators of the South Australian Art Union and one of the founders of the Adelaide Art Society and a judge for the society's earliest exhibitions. He remained a member, exhibitor and prizegiver with the society until he died in 1882. Culley framed important early works such as South Australian German painter Alexander Schramm’s Bush visitors (1859), originally sold to Adelaide businessman C.S. Penny and now in the National Gallery of Australia – in its original frame. The young gilder Molton, who married Culley’s youngest daughter Eliza in 1859, later moved to work for George Debney of Rundle Street, Adelaide, one of the earliest cabinet makers in South Australia. During six years there, he possibly learned carving. He saved enough money to start his own business as a carver, gilder and picture frame maker in the 1860s at a property he bought at No.3 Flinders Street, Adelaide. He also started a dancing saloon next door. From 1881, he may have moved further down Flinders Street or the street numbers had changed. During the1880s, his son Charles Edward Molton entered the A. Molton & Son business. Charles took over when his father retired in 1892 and later inherited the business he continued until 1899.

George Debney prestige furniture maker (and undertaker) for the early colonial Adelaide

George Debney was an early South Australia settler and cabinetmaker whose shop became Gay's Arcade. Debney arrived with his parents and small family from London aboard Lloyds in 1838. Debney farmed at The Reedbeds (western Adelaide) and made a small fortune as one of the fortunate Snobs group of investors in the Burra copper mines venture. He bought an expensive property in Burnside and land at 103–105 Rundle Street, Adelaide, where he opened a furniture factory that won valuable contracts, including seating for the new Legislative Council chambers in 1855. Debney’s work has been judged the colony's finest, with nearby Mayfield's a close second. Another of Debney's prized contracts was to furnish a private suite in government house for the Duke of Edinburgh’s 1867 visit.  Debney kept fulfilling contracts, despite a fire that destroyed his workshop. But he suffered personal tragedy when wife Susanna and daughter Matilda drowned in 1860 when their sailing boat capsized off Glenelg. Debney  served as Burnside Council chairman for six years and as undertaker for the most prestigious funerals. He was the first Adelaide employer to reduce his men's working day from 10 to nine hours. In 1875, he sold his cabinetmaking business to Patrick Gay, who was a cabinetmaker as was his father who, in 1864, had started the cabinetmaking and undertaking business P. Gay & Son at 107 Rundle Street next to Debney’s warehouse and in premises rented from Debney. The later Gay’s Arcade, joining Adelaide Arcade, took its name from Patrick Gay's warehouse and showrooms.

J.E. Dodd a giant among Adelaide builders of pipe organs with romantic tone of world repute

J.E. (Josiah Eustace) Dodd became a giant internationally-recognised figure in Adelaide’s extraordinarily rich heritage of fine pipe organs, in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Melbourne-born Dodd was apprenticed to organ builder George Fincham and came to Adelaide in 1881 as the only employee of Fincham & Hobday organ builders. Dodd bought the business for £1200 in 1894 from Arthur Hobday, who recognised Dodd's work ethic and skill as an organ builder. The organ at St Bartholomew's Anglican Church in Norwood in 1896 was the first built by J.E. Dodd in his own right. His creations that followed included three of the most significant in Adelaide at Clayton Congregational Church, Norwood (1897), the Methodist Church, Kent Town (1898) and the Elder Hall, University of Adelaide (1901), now in St Mark's Catholic cathedral, Port Pirie. Dodd had almost a monopoly on South Australian organ building. He discouraged church authorities from importing English organs and local organ builders couldn’t compete with Dodd’s technical ability and business savvy. He expanded into pianoforte renovation and, from 1918, theatre organs, employing 20 hands. J.E. Dodd built more than 80 instruments and renovated many others in all states except Queensland. In 1935, some members of Dodd’s firm broke away to form the Gunstar Organ Works, that built extension organs with electro-pneumatic action. When World War II trade declined and parts were scarce, the two firms merged as J. E. Dodd & Sons, Gunstar Organ Works. Dodd kept working until late in life.

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