Flamboyant Australian fashion icon Jenny Kee is more fashion artist than fashion designer. In fact, her vibrant flora and fauna-inspired fabric prints are so unique that they have been exhibited in museums around the world including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Kee has made such a significant contribution to the Australian fashion industry over her 40 year career that she was recently awarded the prestigious Australian Fashion Laureate award for 2013.
Presented by IMG Fashion and the New South Wales Government, The Australian Fashion Laureat award recognises outstanding creative or intellectual achievement in the Australian fashion industry. Kee beat three other nominees to become part of an esteemed list of previous recipients of the award including renowned fashion designers Akira Isogawa, Carla Zampatti, and Colette Dinnigan.
Kee burst onto the Australian fashion scene in 1973 when she opened her famous Flamingo Park frock salon in Sydney’s Strand Arcade. She quickly became known for her unique and vibrant nature-inspired fabric designs which captured the attention of influential fashion icons around the world including Karl Lagerfeld who used her Black Opal print for his first collection for Chanel in 1982.
Kee is perhaps best known for her bold scarves which feature designs shaped by a range of influences including Indigenous Australia, early Europe, and the exotic arts of Africa, India, Asia, and South America. Using the silk scarf as her canvas, Kee has developed a spectacular portfolio of designs over the years culminating in “The Art of the Scarf 1980-2012,” a showcase of ten of her most celebrated scarf designs that was launched at Sydney Fashion Week 2012.
After closing her Flamingo Park in 1995, Kee was absent from the fashion scene for a lengthy period of time. Her 2012 “The Art of the Scarf” fashion show signalled her return to the forefront of the Australian fashion industry, a move that has delighted fans of her designs.“Small and beautiful’ is what I’m all about now,” says Kee —“feels perfect for this moment in time, Art of the Scarf is a new beginning!, I am excited to be sharing it!”
Click the slideshow to see some of Jenny Kee's most iconic designs.