Costume Conversations



Immigration Museum
400 Flinders Street
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
What's On

Unravelling the secret life of costumes

From concept design to construction to the world stage and museum collections, costumes often live long and fascinating lives.

Join award winning designer Hugh Colman and Musette Molyneaux, Head of Costume Workshop at The Australian Ballet as they reveal how ballet costumes come to life. Discover the hidden stories behind key pieces on display in Mao’s Last Dancer, the Exhibition including costumes from Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Hear firsthand how these costumes came from page to stage and the collaborative ways in which designers, cutters and costumiers work together to create timeless creations. Joining them will be Museums Victoria conservator Charlotte Walker, who will share her expertise in the ongoing care and conservation of these delicate, stunning objects when they make it to museum collection.


Hugh Colman

Hugh Colman is one of Australia's pre-eminent theatre, dance and opera designers. As a freelance designer, he has worked on well over one hundred productions across Australia and Asia and worked with most of our major theatre, opera and dance companies, including The Australian Ballet, the Australian Opera Company and the Melbourne Theatre Company. Hugh is well known for his elegant and theatrical designs and celebrated as a master of the tutu. In 2006 he won the John Truscott Award for Excellence in Design. Previous Green Room Awards were for The Australian Ballet’s 1984 The Sleeping Beauty, and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie in 1988.

Musette Molyneaux

With over 20 years of experience in the costume industry, Musette has worked on a vast array of projects spanning Opera, feature film, Musicals, Dance, and Theatre. In 2006 she was awarded a Churchill fellowship to undertake in-depth training in traditional costume making for ballet which saw her work with costume workshops at both the Royal Ballet in London and National Ballet of Canada. Since joining the Australian Ballet she has worked on numerous productions as a costume maker, cutter and specialist in ladies costuming. In 2016 Musette took on the role of Head of the costume workshop for the Australian Ballet where she has overseen the building of works for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Spartacus.

Charlotte Walker

Charlotte is a Conservator at Museums Victoria, where she works to facilitate public access to the museum’s history, technology, natural sciences and indigenous cultures collections through exhibitions, digitisation projects and loans to other institutions. The care of Museum Victoria’s textiles is one of her favourite parts of her job, and she particularly enjoys the collaboration and problem solving involved in preparing garments for display. Charlotte has over eight years’ experience working in museums and galleries across Australia, and volunteers in the position of Secretary for the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material’s Victorian Branch.