The Cheaters: 1920s sequined evening dress
A flapper-style 1920s sequined evening dress bought in Paris and worn by Isabel McDonagh (credited as Marie Lorraine) in the Australian silent film The Cheaters (1929).
The sleeveless, knee-length dress is ivory yellow with a drop waist and round neck. It is decorated with sequins, giving it a mother-of-pearl effect of blue, pink and green. There is an additional grey and silver sequin pattern on the front with silver, grey lacework at the bottom front of the dress.
Vertical strips of sequin fabric form a fringe-like effect around the entire bottom half of the dress. Four of these strips are detached from the dress; two are sewn together. The underlining silk is the most fragile part of the dress.
Author Meg Stewart donated the dress, originally owned by her great-aunt Kathleen Coen, to the NFSA in 2015.
The Cheaters was one of the earliest Australian films made by a team of female filmmakers. The McDonagh sisters - Paulette (director), Phyllis (art director) and actress Isabel - made the film as a silent movie in 1929. It arrived in cinemas after the release of the first talking pictures and the McDonagh sisters converted it to a part-talkie and later to a full-talkie film in 1931.