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Expert historian fashioning the next generation of stars at TAFE NSW


Expert historian fashioning the next generation of stars at TAFE NSW

For over 60 years, the TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio has produced some of the biggest names in the Australian Fashion Industry including Dion Lee, Nicky Zimmermann and Akira. TAFE NSW is broadly recognised in Australia and abroad as a leader in fashion education and graduates have shaped the development of the Australian fashion industry and its recognition globally.

Writer and Academic Hilary Davidson is helping build the next generation of fashion stars at TAFE NSW by equipping them with a comprehensive education in the history of fashion.

Along with lecturing part time in Design and Culture at TAFE NSW, Hilary is also the author of a new book – Dress in the Age of Jane Austen: Regency Fashion – which places the clothing in Jane Austen’s fiction within the larger context of Regency fashion and its reflection of a rapidly changing, and globalising, society.

“My expertise in this field is unusually wide. I cover a lot more areas and periods of history than many, plus I’m an experienced maker who knows historical clothing from the inside out. I can not only explain to students at TAFE NSW the stylistic changes of rococo fashion, I can show them how to make it.”

Hilary brings her expansive knowledge and incredible pedigree to the classroom to help students understand the critical link between fashion through the ages and how it informs modern trends and practical applications.

Hilary said, “If we look at how cultures use clothing, we can explore everything about that culture - technology, beliefs, habits, values. It’s endlessly fascinating and combines the intimate and personal with the vast and universal.

“On a purely aesthetic level, fashion is a glorious, endless realm of visual possibility. Originally I thought about becoming a fashion or costume designer but soon realised the history interested me more than the production.

“I’ve been teaching in many places since I finished my Masters in the history of textiles and dress - over fifteen years now. I have a deep and enthusiastic love of my subject and I really enjoy sharing that with emerging designers at TAFE NSW. There’s nothing like seeing a student get inspired to research, and excited about what they discover.”

In terms of how history informs current trends, Hilary can confidently claim she is the go-to expert. She says the 90s trend that has emerged over the past few years is still the dominant aesthetic.

“Fashion runs in cycles, and generally looks back to around 20-25 years ago. We’re still in the middle of a revival of mid-90s fashion, while also seeing a lot of strong influences from the 1930s in the form of floral maxi dresses and bias cutting.”

TAFE NSW fashion students study the history of fashion back to prehistoric times, and relevant key issues of now and the future, including sustainability. Hilary is proud to teach at TAFE NSW, helping equip the students of today with the skills they need to shape the future of Australian fashion.

“TAFE NSW has always been one of the leading fashion schools in Australia. The staff and students are incredibly dedicated, work hard and constantly give above and beyond to what they do. I love the way TAFE NSW fosters individual creativity, while giving students a strong grounding in the technical skills and craftsmanship that can set off and fully express their visions.

“As someone who's taught in many universities internationally, including Central Saint Martins, the University of Cambridge, and the American University in Paris, I’m proud to teach at TAFE NSW because I’m a big champion of vocation and technical based training.

“It’s a vital resource for Australia, and Australian students. I feel privileged to be part of an experience that shapes people and connects them with global culture.”

To learn more about studying Fashion Design at TAFE NSW in 2020, call 131 601 or visit

Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Media and Communications Business Partner,, mobile 0402 528 210.