Four Mitchell Tyrie Bears Arrive At Melbourne Museum’s New Rainbow Threads Exhibition

Four Mitchell Tyrie Bears Arrive At Melbourne Museum’s New Rainbow Threads Exhibition
Image: Image: Museums Victoria

Throughout 2023, the Melbourne Museum have been celebrating the contributions of the LGBTQIA+ community to Melbourne’s art, fashion, performance and creative communities through their Rainbow Threads exhibition series.

World AIDS Day on December 1 saw the unveiling of the final installment in this series, four bears made by Melbourne company Mitchell Tyrie and dressed by celebrated artists, fashion and costume designers all over the world before being auctioned to raise funds for AIDS charities.

Bears in Couture

Contributors included local designers and companies like Country Road and Howard Showers, and international designers David Hockney, Vivienne Westwood, Emmanuel Ungaro, Karl Lagerfeld and many more. The around 300 bears were sold at auction in three sales from 1993–1995, raising thousands of dollars for charities including the Victorian AIDS Council and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.

Bear-ecfast at Tiffany’s

Audrey Hepbearn was dressed by costumier Darryl Myott in the unforgettable Givenchy-designed Edith Head-crafted ensemble worn by Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Myott even replicated the stunning parure of a diamond and pearl necklace and hairpiece made by Roger Scemama, and ensured the bear would never go hungry with a tiny replica croissant. The bear was auctioned by Christies in Sydney in October 1995 to benefit the Victorian and New South Wales Aids Councils.

San Fransisco Op-Beara

The bear depicting the character Othello was also sold at the October 1995 auction, featuring an incredible silk costume created by senior draper Matthew Nash using the same fabric used to clothe Chris Merrit in the San Fransisco Opera’s 1994 production of Rossini’s Otello.

Also from the San Fransisco Opera is the bear depicting Clarion, from the opera Capriccio. Made in memory of the late Greek–American mezzo-soprano Tatiana Troyanos, who had performed as Clarion alongside Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in 1993 while privately battling cancer. The costume was designed by Thierry Bosquet, the Belgian artist, painter, model maker, set and costume designer, born in 1937 and still working today.

The Real House-bear-wives of Sydney

The Duchess of Double Bay was dressed by couturier Jonathan Ward and bedecked in a suite of faux diamonds and amethysts including a stunning tiara by Melbourne jeweler Adrian Lewis. Dressed in a gown of black velvet and gold lame, with a tiny boned corset, The Duchess was auctioned in October 1994 in Melbourne, benefiting the Victorian Aids Council.

Other bears made for the auction included one depicting Dame Edna Everage, dressed by Tess A’Beckett and Chris Roger which sold for a whopping $6000 in August 1993, in a sale that raised $95,000.

If you can’t wait to see the bears, click through to see a video featuring curator Michael Reason, before getting yourself down to the Melbourne Museum to view the now complete Rainbow Threads exhibit.

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