History of Centre Stage Costumes

Centrestage Costumes began around 1985 in North Carlton, in the guise of ‘General Costume’.

The costume business was a direct result of running one of Melbourne’s first Singing Telegram services. Lots of costumes were required for all the novelty telegram themes that were required back in the early 80’s.

While performing 2500 singing telegrams around Melbourne, Mary turned her talents to making the required outfits such as gold and silver jump suits, various animals, Valentine Hearts and the like.

Then around 1985 Mary and her partner Bill Smale (R.I.P.2004) purchased the entire goods and chattels of the Bendigo Costume Shop. This was the beginning of serious costuming for Mary.

It’s still a family business with Mary’s son Jimmy now working in it, having endured a childhood sharing his bedroom with 50 Santa suits for 10 months of the year.

Through the 90’s associations developed with some of the bigger event producers such as Peter Jones Special Events.

Hyatt Plaza Egyption Theme

Events bought Mary’s organisational skills to the fore, as well as her now well developed creative textile skills. One example;  install a pop-up shop in the Hyatt for the weekend, dress 450 people in theme.

The logistics are akin to moving a small army!

Hyatt Plaza Egyption Theme Costumes

Mary Gurry at the Hyatt Plaza

450 Happy Egyptians at the Plaza Ballroom

Museum Launch Melbourne Exhibition Buildings

Some interesting requests were made.When the new Melbourne Museum opposite the Exhibition Buildings was built in 2000 we had a hand in a few things – dressing human statues at the launch breakfast for dignitaries, wrapping a giant ribbon around the Children’s ‘cube’ museum (to be cut at the launch), the covering cloth of the building stone, to be peeled off by the premier Steve Bracks, and the most touching of jobs – a beautiful red satin and gold fringed cover for Pharlap’s display case – to be unveiled at the opening! – Yes, we make a lot of stuff that just gets ripped off or disposed of as part of the job.

In July 2001 the shop was re-located to the much bigger store location in Lygon St, Brunswick East, and morphed from ‘General Costume’ with 80 square meters to ‘Centrestage Costumes’ with 320 sq. meters.

The new location has hosted Cabaret nights, Christmas Parties, film shoots, as well as serving the needs of the party and events world of Melbourne and beyond on a regular basis.

National Gallery of Victoria

When the National Gallery of Victoria was renovated by Mario Bellini and reopened in 2003, Mary at Centrestage Costumes was commissioned to create real copies of the ‘Cleopatra’ and ‘Marc Antony’ costumes in Tiepolo’s “The Banquet of Cleopatra” for actors to wear on the closing weekend for renovations and opening in the new space.

In 2011 Mary was again commissioned by the NGV as part of their 150th Anniversary where they asked 15 artists to re-interpret a work from each decade of the gallery’s existence.

NGV 150 anniversary theme costumes

The Banquet of Cleopatra.

Mary’s challenge was recreating Goya’s ‘The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters’, at Federation Square for the weekend’s celebrations.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters Fed Square

Creating The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters Fed Square


Centre Stage at Federation Square

Some of those very monsters can be seen floating in the roof space of the shop in Lygon Street now.

Emporium Melbourne Re-Launch 2014

Most recently Emporium Melbourne commissioned Centrestage Costumes to produce 50 Bell Hop costumes for their launch in April 2014. These costumes will no doubt be used again for Baz Luhrmann’s main opening of the centre in August.

Myer Emporium Launch 2014 Bell Hop Costumes

Emporium Melbourne Launch 2014 Bell Hop Costumes

Mary Gurry - Centrestage Costumes MelbourneI’m a history nut!

Not the dates and big things – costume challenges have lead me to research what was worn in Babylon, ancient Egypt, medieval England, Vikings etc.

I have an enormous collection of history books – lots of which tend to be designed for a young audience with lots of pictures – I LOVE the pictures – I can spend 10 minutes pouring over a stature of William Wallace (Brave Heart), just to work out how his belts are designed.

I can google for hours on the subject of the history of hats, or the history and styles of crowns.

Lately, I’m absorbed by all things medieval and Viking – yes, I’ve been watching The Vikings, and Game of Thrones.

I’ve learned that the leather and metal armour that has a snake skin appearance is called scale mail.

I’ve already started planning a Viking chest plate to suit Ragnar Lothbrok or Bjorn Ironside. And the same chest plate I plan to use to create a John Snow outfit as well. I’ve become a regular customer of my favourite leather supply store.

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