Belinda Esperson

Jenny Kee and the 1980’s

I was blown away yesterday when I dropped into Pieces of Eight Gallery and saw their amazing window display by Benja Harney to celebrate the work of designer Jenny Kee.

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I have to admit those Jenny Kee pullover designs of the 1980’s featuring koalas and other native fauna and flora make me feel a bit queasy. They were such a feature of fashion in Australia in the 80’s together with the bright bright colours, big shoulder pads and puffed sleeve shirts in synthetic shiny fabrics, big hair, stilettos and power suits for women. Ugh – it was so not my decade….I was so relieved when it was over!

That said however, I really admire Jenny Kee – she’s had an amazing life, she is a true original and her work really does celebrate the beauty and vibrancy of Australia. It is great to see a younger generation appreciate her work as fresh and new – wearing it in a fresh way and being able to enjoy it without the ugliness that surrounded it in the 80’s.

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Benja Harney has captured the native Australian flowers that feature in Jenny’s designs so superbly in paper. I so enjoyed looking at how he had created 3D forms of Warratahs, Sturt Desert Peas, Wattle and Flannel flowers out of 2D paper. And of course Jenny’s distinctive glasses took centre stage – unmistakably Jenny Kee.

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Belinda Esperson