A dress of its own

04 November, 2009

Judith Durham dress
The dress worn by Judith Durham of the Seekers. On loan from the National Film and Sound Archive.
Source: Museum Victoria

A gown worn by Judith Durham in The Seekers joins the line-up of music memorabilia on show in the Melbourne Gallery.

The Seekers were Australia’s biggest music group in the 60s and the first home-grown group to hit the big time in the UK and America. They formed in Melbourne in 1962 with Judith, a traditional jazz, blues and gospel singer, as lead vocalist.

The band’s enormous success, with its unique folk-pop fusion and sweet melodies, was thanks in large part to Judith.

“It was Judith’s voice that really made the band,” explained Michael Reason, Assistant Curator, History & Technology. “It is her voice that people remember when they think of The Seekers.”

Judith’s dress, on loan from the National Film & Sound Archive in Canberra, consists of a cream lace and pin-tucked pleated blouse and matching skirt, with a pink pleated waist sash. It was typical of the Edwardian Victorian revival happening in fashion at the time.

“Judith wore longer skirts from the early 60s, and introduced mini-skirts to her wardrobe in 1966,” said Michael.

The outfit was only ever worn once, for the filming of the Morningtown Ride sequence at Como in Melbourne for the Channel 9 special The World Of The Seekers.

A still photograph from that sequence was used for the cover of a compilation album, The Best of the Seekers, which was released after the group split in 1968. It reached Number One in the UK and remained in the charts for 125 weeks.

Judith resumed her solo career for the next 25 years, and The Seekers unexpectedly reunited in the 1990s for a ‘Silver Jubilee’ tour and recordings lasting throughout that decade. 

Judith’s outfit will be on display for two years and is replacing the Marcie Jones dress on loan from The Arts Centre, Performing Arts Collection. Outfits in the exhibition need to be changed frequently since clothing is susceptible to fading.

Comments (5)

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Cameron 20 January, 2010 10:27
Wow!! Best surprise as this was a truely delightful shoot from the Seekers and the dress perfect. I often wondered where that dress Judith featured on the cover of The Seekers Live at the Talk of the Town in London. It was another stunning selection that typified their syle above all the rest. Don't get me wrong she looked great in mini shirts too. I would have loved to have seen a Black Tie photo shoot of The Seekers over the years but to my knowledge it never has been done.
Mark 3 February, 2010 13:12
Wonderful to see this dress (as much as I'd like to see it back on Judith!) But to be fair, the Seekers were (are) a totality of extraordinarily talented individuals. As Judith herself said "The Seekers sound is these four bodies..." Her voice was certainly the backbone of the overall unique sound..." But don't forget The Boys, Athol, Keith, Bruce...
Ronald Fields 5 February, 2010 06:19
The Seekers had a "unique" sound that can not be matched by anyone ... But the main thing that sets the Seekers apart is their presentation of the music .. it was genuine, pure, honest, from the heart ... they wanted to do it... they were having fun, it was not put on and they were making us happy while they sang. And after they came back and reunited they gave us another wonderful collection of songs. All I can say is thank you for all of these great songs, many with catchy melodies that are aways on the tip of my tongue as I go through the day. God Bless you all Ron Tennessee 2010
Ronald Fields 25 February, 2010 03:31
I suggest they make a wax figure of Judith and put the dress on her. What an honor and she would give the dress more meaning, color and life... They do this with famous people all over the world...
michael thomas 10 March, 2012 16:30
the other dress CAMERON mentions was just as lovely, i have a photograph of her wearing it (a much clearer photo)than the talk of the town album cover i wonder where that dress ended up? she obviously wore the pink dress more than once as the photo i have is unlike the 1968 album cover in london.
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