Vivian Chan Shaw: a retrospective

6 Feb

Life can be so serendipitous.

This morning, by chance, I stumbled into one of the most inspiring fashion exhibitions I have ever seen.

Until February 13, the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Surry Hills is hosting a 40 year retrospective of designer Vivian Chan Shaw. I took my mum to Whitehouse this morning to show her the school, only to discover that it was the first day of the exhibition celebrating one of Australia’s most formidable and courageous designers.


Vivian Chan Shaw began designing fabric garments in 1972 and soon moved onto knitwear (she’d been knitting from five years old). Her knitwear was ground-breaking: her bold, beautiful colours, continual references to nature, her evening wear, and incredible seamless designs – all made individually on a hand loom – brought her international acclaim. Her label has forever changed the face of knitwear, proving that it can be used to produce much, much more than a token sweater.

Mum and I had the fortune to meet Claudia Chan Shaw, Vivian’s daughter and collaborator: an intensely beautiful woman, she spoke to us personally about the creation process (“yes, we’re crazy”). What a creative, talented and inspiring woman.

Enough of my talk.

See the exhibition for yourself:

6-13 February

Whitehouse Institute of Design, Sydney

2 Short St, Surry Hills

10am-5pm (daily)

Cost: Free

Here’s a taster:

 DSC_0042 DSC_0100DSC_0098DSC_0114DSC_0044  DSC_0049   DSC_0054 DSC_0056 DSC_0055 DSC_0059DSC_0061

Vivian’s jewellery: hand-knitted wire.

DSC_0062 DSC_0065 DSC_0067  DSC_0069 DSC_0072 DSC_0075  DSC_0080 DSC_0086 DSC_0087 DSC_0088   DSC_0092

You have to go and see these pieces in the flesh. The craftsmanship, expertise and creative vision (spanning 40 years, no less) will blow you away.

The exhibition is on level 5 of the Whitehouse Institute. Speak to the lovely receptionist and he’ll show you the way upstairs.

You can also visit their flagship store in the Queen Vic Building (get off at Town Hall station): shop 33, level one.




One Response to “Vivian Chan Shaw: a retrospective”

  1. Gay Hodder February 8, 2013 at 12:37 am #

    It truly has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Such a delight to be surrounded by so much astounding beauty and creativity.

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