Friday, June 26, 2015

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Weekend

As vintage loving gals, I'm pretty sure you will have heard of this show...

If you haven't, you might want to acquaint yourself with it!  This brilliant Australian-made production centres around the enigmatic femme-fatale Miss Phryne Fisher and her cohorts as she fights crime amid the priviledged wealth and gritty backstreets of 1928 Melbourne.  It is beautifully filmed in historic locations around Melbourne and the highly stylised late 1920s fashion fantasy from costume designer Marion Boyce never ceases to inspire me!

An exhibition of costumes from series three was announced earlier in the year, along with a bunch of events - a 'Festival of Phryne' - and my friends and I could not plan a weekend away fast enough!  We chose three events to attend, a speakeasy, a high tea, and the exhibition itself.  We also decided to have a whole 20s/30s themed weekend, staying in a historic hotel and going to see Anything Goes at the theatre!

Here is a photo of our gorgeous hotel

The Hotel Charsfield is a beautiful, incredibly well maintained hotel in Melbourne, but if you want to go and stay there, you need to do it quickly, because early next year it is going to be pulled down and replaced with an apartment building.  So sad....  They are keeping the facade because they have to, but thats just not good enough in my opinion.


After checking in and exploring, we all got frocked up to attend Miss Fisher's Speakeasy at Old Melbourne Gaol.

You might have seen the dress I am wearing on my facebook page.  I made it using this Evadress pattern, and some rayon crepe from

To say I love this dress is an understatement.  I felt so amazing in it, it is now my most favourite dress!

We met more friends at the gaol and drank and talked the night away.

It was nice to see other people dressed up for the occasion.  Some had made a really good go at period costume, but the short skirt/sequined headband/feather boa brigade were also well represented.

The following day was Phryne's Fashionable High Tea at Labassa House.  I had concentrated on making appropriate evening wear for the weekend, so decided to wear one of my favourite 1940s outfits topped off with a 1920s silver fox fur.

Let me tell you a bit about the location for the high tea - Labassa.  It is easily the most beautiful house I have ever had the pleasure of spending time in.  It epitomises all my ideas of 'faded glory'.

This house, originally built in 1862 with 8 rooms, was expanded to its current form in 1889 when the new owner asked the architect to "Build me the most magnificent house in Melbourne".  Labassa was born.  The house grew to 35 rooms,every surface was ornamented, and the grounds swelled from 12 to 15 acres.

Labassa changed hands several times, and in 1919 it fell into a long period of neglect and slow decay.  The interior was scared by its conversion to flats, and the grounds were sold off piece by piece, with houses encroaching on all sides.  There was even a house built on the forecourt where we are standing in the above photo with its back fence just six feet from the front of the house.  And at one point in the late 1970s, it was only the high cost of demolition that saved it!

Thankfully, due to a large corporate donation, the National Trust was able to purchase the property in 1980 and has been working on its restoration ever since, including purchasing the house on the forecourt and demolishing it, so Labassa's noble facade could once more be seen an enjoyed.

Here are the photos I took of the interior.  I spent an awful lot of time looking up.

I just loved the trompe l'oeil painted on the ceiling above the staircase.  Restoring it was an 18 month labour of love, and was well worth it!  If you want to read more about Labassa - have a look here.  I hope it is open when I am next in Melbourne, and I can join one of the guided tours to learn more about the house.

Oh!  I almost forgot!  Labassa was featured in series 2 episode 1, when it was transformed into a gentlemen's club.  Thats the episode where Phryne pretends to be a burlesque dancer to catch the crims, and does an amazing fan dance in the process!

After stuffing ourselves with cake, and taking in the beautiful house, we headed back to the hotel to get ready to go out to the theatre.

I hadn't heard much about this show to be honest, but who doesn't love a trip to the theatre!  AND they had provided a bit of red carpet for photo ops out the front!
This is the second dress I made for the weekend - from this Decades of Style pattern

Now this has to be possibly the fattest photo I've seen of me in a while, but its the only photo of us all together, so I am posting it anyway.  At least you can see the divine 1920s silk velvet cape I wore!

The show itself was wonderful - great songs, incredible costumes, and wonderful whole cast dance numbers.  There were four seamstresses there (including me) and we were all taking mental notes in our heads on how to recreate our favourites!

Sunday was our day at the exhibition, which was being held at Rippon Lea.  Another amazing property owned by the National Trust that features heavily in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.  Its where Aunt Prudence lives!

Our little group wandering up the drive towards Rippon Lea

Rippon Lea was built on a large parcel of land between 1868 and 1903, but there isn't just a house - there are extensive gardens, a lake (complete with waterfalls and islands, all connected with bridges), a grotto, and a huge fernery.  Amazingly, its all still there!

Some land was subdivided off when the estate was sold on the death of the original owner, but luckily the man who bought it to subdivide died before he could do any more!  There was a close call in the 1960s though.  In 1954 the Australian Broadcasting Commission purchased two acres of paddock to build TV studios for the Melbourne Olympics, and when they wanted more space in 1963, the government announced a compulsory acquisition of 4.1 acres.  Thing is, the bit they wanted to take included the lake, waterfall and grotto - so the most important bits of the landscaping!  The owner of the home - who wanted to preserve it and bequeath it to the National Trust - fought until her death in 1972 to keep the estate together.  When it was passed into the hands of the National Trust at that time, the government gave back the land they had compulsorily acquired.  THANK GOODNESS!

The house is the perfect place to hold this exhibition, as the clothes just look so wonderful in the surroundings!  And so did we!

 Although I did hear a couple of people saying it was wonderful to see so many people at the exhbition 'in costume'....

This outfit is my favourite, and I would love to recreate it for next summer!

 I just love this use of trim.  And while I don't wear coats this shape, this is definitely an idea I could borrow!

This delightful boudoir ensemble started out its life as a table cloth...

There were many many more outfits on display, but I could not possibly photograph every one of them.  And thank fully I didn't have to - I was able to buy the book instead!

After taking in the house and the exhibition, we took a tour around the gardens.  I really am glad they were able to keep the whole place in one piece.

It truly was a magnificent weekend.  I really enjoy spending time with these ladies, some of which I haven't seen for 12 months.  Getting together with like-minded people is something we should all do more of.  Its good for our souls.

So, does anyone have plans to see the exhibition?



  1. I absolutely adore Miss Fisher and I'm just a tiny bit jealous, well a big bit, of the wonderful time you had visiting these places and seeing the exhibition. I was hoping that when I arrived in Sydney next week I would be able to catch the last couple of episodes but alas only eight this season and its finished. As an Aussie gal living in the US it's rare to be able to see an Australian show so I am waiting not so patiently for season 3 to screen.

  2. Ohhhh....thank you so much for going! These are all just lovely!! Next year, I'm going to try to get back down there next year so fingers crossed they do this again.

  3. I haven't seen the show as I live in the UK but have read lots about it and would love to see it. All your outfits are fabulous, as are those of your friends. Those locations that you went to are just stunning, I would love a good wander around them!

    1. Miss Fisher seasons 1 & 2 are now on Netflix in the UK if you have it and season 3 will be on the Alibi channel hopefully this year.

  4. Oh my word, your weekend is my idea of heaven! I love Miss Fisher and this period in particular. All of the outings and settings look amazing and a real treat for anyone who loves vintage. I just wish I lived in Australia!
    I adore the dress you wore on the first night, that's really stunning and those Anything Goes costumes! I'm currently on my own journey into transforming my wardrobe from 50s to 30s and I particularly love the whole holiday wear look of this time.

  5. Beccie, the only thing more stunning than the locations is you. Your wardrobe and styling is unparalleled.

  6. This is such a fantastic post! I just started watching this show, and I am in complete awe. What a beautifully well-done series. You look amazing, and provide so much architectural eye candy!

  7. Just love this post! I've started doing Burlesque dancing, and let me tell you, holding those fans is no mean feat! So glad I found your blog! x

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