Friday, May 6, 2011

Darlinghurst Blog: Fashion: Josh Goot at Australian Fashion Week

By a mysterious - and usually absent - case of luck, I was invited to attend the Josh Goot show at this week's Australian Fashion Week. And in another serendipitous piece of fortune, the show was being held in Darlinghurst. Third time lucky: the event last night was taking place inside the vacated, art deco City Ford building, of which I have always been most curious about.

The grand, six storey building was custom-built for City Ford in the 1930s on a large block of land, with an entrance on Crown Street and backing all the way to Riley Street, along the Suttor Street lane. The building is presently for sale or lease but already 60 per cent has been pre-sold or pre-leased to Woolworths and the East Sydney Private Hospital.

The show was due to start at 8.30pm, but I knew it would start about one hour late and I wasn't wrong. When I arrived at 9pm, there was a throng of people waiting for general admission tickets to the show. 

Luckily I had an invitation, so I was ushered passed the crowd and into a waiting elevator to take me to level six.

When I arrived there were about 500 people gathered in an enormous and amazing space with high, vaulted ceilings.

I took my seat in the front row and admired the lighting, which made it appear as if we were in a dark and deserted warehouse in the middle of the day.

It was a really great seat, right next to the runway.

At about 9.30pm, when everyone was seated, the lights went out, the music started up, overhead fluorescent lights lit up in rows and the show began.

At the end of the show, the models did another lap of the large rectangular runway and if you look closely in the photograph below you can see former tourism ambassador Lara Bingle seated in the front row.

After the show I went backstage.

Designer Josh Goot hung about the runway to talk to the media about his Spring-Summer 2012 collection, which featured prints inspired by the work of artist Gerhard Richter.

By that time I was ready to go, but not before having a snoop around the curvaceous interior of the building. 

A car ramp winds around the inside of the building alongside these photogenic stairwells.

There's also loads of strange rooms with wooden furniture:

But the highlight of my snoop was discovering what was inside this glass booth:

Inside was perhaps Australia's only in situ control board of the PABX Sylvester 16-line switchboard system:

Wow! According to a little plaque I found nearby:

''It was installed in late 1937 and came into operation in January 1938 and at the time of installation was the most modern telephone communication system available. The PABX system was installed on the third level of this building where the recycle operation took place in a sealed room.
''The switchboard had the capacity to hold 200 extensions, which in 1938 was considered to be of enormous proportions. The only upgrading that took place during its period of operation from 1938 until 1985 was to have three tie-lines installed to Camperdown, Mascot and Ford Credit.
''It is believed to be the only switchboard of its type available to be seen in its original position and state in Australia.''

And then in another glass booth nearby I found another interesting device, known as the Lamson Pneumatic Station System, which was used for sending written messages from floor to floor:

There was also another little plaque that read:

''This is the main or central station on a Lamson, 20 station, turbine vaccum system that serviced the entire building from 1938 until 1966. It was purchased from Lamson Engineering in London in 1937 and commenced operation on the 24th of January, 1938, for which the original certificate of operation is displayed. The operation was by a turbine, which created a vacuum and the tubes were drawn by atmospheric pressure caused by the vacuum and was sent from one station to the central station and there relayed to the destination by the central station operator. This system proved over the years of operation to be highly efficient and trouble free.''

I love how the owner of the building has retained its history and I hope that whoever buys or leases the space keeps the PABX Sylvester 16-line switchboard and the Lamson Pneumatic Station System in place. But if you are more interested in frocks, visit Goot's website. The new collection will be in shops in August.



Ruby said...

Great post, Violet! What an intriguing building. I'm thinking a guerilla-style film shoot is in order because those staircases, that booth and the PABX machine alone are worth being blown up on the big screen.

Loved your front row Fashion Week pix too - especially the very unglamorous backstage shot!


I would have like a more 'European' style of backstage photos.I have always been attracted to thick curved glass (the glass booth) it feels so natural yet, at the same time utterly unreal because until I actually saw 'curved' glass it was fixed straight in my head. There is an wonderful large curved window, South facing on a commercial building at Crows Nest. I can only guess that the building Art Deco, red brown brick and andorned by amini castle keep'. (at intersection of Pacific Highway and Bruce Street).

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