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From the Bomb to the Beatles, Maitland to host gala fashion event


While the rest of the world was celebrating the end of war on Wednesday August 15 1945, a pair of East Maitland teenagers were preparing for a celebration of their own.

Shirley Burg and her twin sister Eunice made their debutante that night at the Maitland Town Hall.

Dressed in their finest the duo danced with classmates in what was to become a turning point in history.

A photograph of that night, complete with names of all the attendees, is one of the many items that will be on display at St John’s Hall on Saturday 2 April as the venue plays host to ‘From the Bomb to the Beatles’, an afternoon of history, fashion and nostalgia.

The event, which will include fashion from 1945 to 1975, is the brainchild of Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles collection manager Lynette Huckstadt.

It is in fact her 95-year-old mother Shirley, who is one of those former dancing Burg sisters.

“My mum wrote every name on the back of that photo so if you have a family member who might be on there, please come and take a look and let me know.”

Fashion will be the tool that allows a visual walk through history at the inaugural event, Ms Huckstadt says.

“We have a family dressed in the clothing that was worn when the first migrants arrived in the 1950s near Greta.

“Then there’s a dacron ensemble from the 60s that would have been worn to look like Jacqui Kennedy’s pillbox hat.

“And then of course there’s the 70s, the worst decade of fashion in our lifetime,” she adds.

“The geometric pants suits, the clashing colours, the outlandish flares, men wearing safari suits, ..oh we wore some ghastly stuff back then.”

The two-hour event will feature iconic fashion items such as debutante dresses, dressing gowns, minis and maxis, as well as swimsuits and house wear.

Mens fashion will also make an appearance.

One of the highlights of the event is a wedding dress salvaged after the 1955 Hunter floods. 

“It was worn by a local woman who will be attending the event,” Ms Huckstadt says.

“When she sees the model on the stage it’ll be the first time she’s seen her dress being worn by someone else, so that’ll be a nice touch.”

A $40 ticket to ‘From the Bomb to the Beatles’ will include ‘bubbly, grazing boxes, a fashion parade, a photo booth and the chance to win some great prizes’.

“First prize in the raffle is two nights at a resort on the south coast,” Ms Huckstadt told Newcastle Weekly.

“Second is an evening out on a yacht in Port Stephens for eight friends, and third prize is a beautiful patchwork quilt by Jen Thoren.”

Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in their best vintage fashion for a chance to win further prizes.

Former Maitland Mayor Loretta Baker will be judging the fashions, while Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison will be emceeing the event.

While the afternoon is about fashion, the event will also play homage to the building in which it will be held.

A Music Hall in the 1920s, the High Street building was converted into a cathedral as the area grew over time, however after being damaged in the 1988 earthquakes once again returned to its role as music hall.

A timeline of photographs of its conversion will also feature at the event.

From The Bomb to the Beatles will take place on Saturday 2 April from 1pm to 3pm at the St John’s Hall Maitland.

Tickets can be purchased through eventbrite.com.au

For more information contact Lynnette Huckstadt on 0408 329 495.

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