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Uniforms on parade

Uniforms on parade

The striking orange uniforms of the Australian hostesses at Expo 67
The striking orange uniforms of the Australian hostesses at Expo 67 Montreal. Photo: National Archives of Australia, AA1982/206 29.

The uniforms worn by staff in the Australian pavilion were chosen by a committee.

Its members included fashion designer Zara Holt, wife of Prime Minister Harold Holt, Air Marshal Sir Valston E Hancock as Australian Commissioner General for Expo 67 Montreal, architect Robin Boyd, and Miss Australia 1960 titleholder and hostess supervisor Rosemary Fenton.

In a letter inviting Mrs Holt to act as chairperson of the committee, Sir Valston wrote: 'There is little doubt that the public will regard the hostesses as examples of young womanhood in Australia. We are naturally anxious then that they should be seen to best advantage "on parade". For this reason in the selection of hostesses, possession of a suitable figure will be an advantage.'

The committee sought submissions from five designers. The brief called for uniforms with original and striking designs. They also needed to be practical since they would be used daily for six months.

The designers consulted were Noeleen King, W Meggisun, Trent Nathan, E Bythway and T Wardle. After considering submissions, the committee decided that Mrs Holt would combine the best features of the five designs into the official uniform.

The hostesses' uniform was a collarless dress in orange wool gabardine sourced from Australian wool merchant Tissus Michels. The dress features cut-away shoulders in a semi-fitted style. This was teamed with a matching double-breasted, hip-length jacket with a slightly cut-away collar. The hostesses wore wrist-length gloves donated by Collins & Millar of Burwood, New South Wales.

The attendants wore a suit of dark charcoal-green wool flannel. The double-breasted jacket was paired with tapered trousers and a plain dark green tie, decorated with the Australian coat of arms. An off-white drip-dry shirt, charcoal-green socks and dark tan shoes completed the outfit. The attendant's uniform was provided by Wenzels, Victoria with shoes from the Van Eden company.

Each staff member received two uniforms. They were directed to travel to the pavilion in their everyday clothes and then change into the uniform in the specially appointed dressing room. The staff worked six days a week in seven hour shifts, with a break for lunch or dinner.