Cold enamelled copper top

Margo Barton made this to wear to her fashion school ball in 1983. She studied at the Fashion Design Studio at East Sydney Technical College. She has worn it many times since with all sorts of black base garments including these black leather jodhpurs she made in 1981. "More recently I unlinked the sides and wore as a tabard over a black NOM*d dress to the iD Dunedin Fashion Week show at the railway station in 2010." Margo was inspired by Paco Robannes work, "but I wanted a twist and colour. I think Picasso was showing at the NSW gallery, hence I adapted a Picasso image for this. It was extremely time-consuming to make – I couldn’t go to see Iggy Pop play (damn it!) as I had to stay home and file and enamel so it would be ready in time. Before enamelling I had to file all of the edges. It took forever and I lost all feeling in my fingers for a week or so following this. I also roped in two fantastic flatmates, Pete Buchanan (now husband) and Lynette Jones (now also living in Dunedin), to help me file all the corners. I had to get on a bus and also walk miles in the searing heat to get to the industrial areas of Sydney to purchase the chemicals I needed to cold enamel directly from the chemical manufacturers Ciba-Geigy. No MSD sheets were given and I shudder at the health and safety issues. Luckily it was a hot, dry time in Sydney and I sat outside on our deck (day and night) to enamel the top." Margo says it is one of her favourite outfits from the time. "On reflection, it indicates how I would take an 'alternative material' route as a designer." Read more about the history of home sewing in the New Zealand Fashion Museum publication Home Sewn.


Credit: Garment loan courtesy of Margo Barton
Copyright: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 Licence
Designer: Margo Barton
Maker: Margo Barton
Manufacturing location: Sydney
Garment type: Top
Features: Before cold enamelling, the copper pieces needed to be filed
Exhibition: Home Sewn: Original New Zealand Fashion (Dunedin 2013)
Date: 1983