Friday, January 24, 2014

Norma Tullo

Hi there good lookin! How’s your week been? I’ve been a busy little bee myself sewing up some new dresses and doing a lot of research for today’s post.

It’s also our national day tomorrow – Australia day, and my friends and I will be celebrating by having a picnic and watching a classic Aussie film The Castle in the backyard projected up onto a sheet.

So now let’s learn a little more about one of Australia’s most prominent designers from the 60s. 

Norma Tullo
I had bought 2 sewing patterns last week by designer Norma Tullo. I wanted to find out a little bit more about this woman who released a significant number of patterns with Butterick in the 60s and 70s, but strangely there was not a main source of info about her. So I decided to sit myself down and read through The Trove resources from the National Library of Australia and bring you some more info about such an important Australian fashion designer.

Norma Tullo (born 1936) began her career in fashion design as a young woman working in a solictiors office in 1956. She designed and made for herself and friends slacks and dresses, eventually making enough of a name that she was able to open her own studio on Londsdale Street in Melbourne in the 60s. 

The autumn teen scene in wool. (1962, March 7). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 42 Supplement: Teenagers' Weekly 
WAIST-SKIMMING dress in red wool. The sleeves have removable white cuffs.
Pleats give a godet effect to the skirt. The dress is available in 10 high-fashion colors.
Dress by Norma Tullo, Melbourne. Approximate retail price £11/18/6.-
TAILORED straight-line pinafore. A pique blouse lends sparkle to the out-fit. Ensemble by
Norma Tullo, Melbourne. Approximate retail price of pinafore £8/10/-, of blouse £4/10/ - 1962

In 1965 she was approached by Butterick Patterns to produce 4 patterns in their Young Designers range along the likes of Mary Quant and Jean Muir. Butterick had chosen Tullo as they recognised that her style had “the American look” and would be successful in the US.


In 1965 she won a record 7 Wool board awards (wool being a major Australian export, awards from the Wool board were a major triumph) and also won the Australian Lyrebird award and the David Jones Fashion award – both prestigious awards at the time. 


Trend-setting fashions in NEW WOOLS. (1964, March 4). The AustralianWomen's Weekly (1933 - 1982) p.34 
Coat and shift in pink wool won a gold medal award for Norma Tullo Pty. Ltd. Dress about £11/19/-, coat £19/19/11 - 1964
Trend-setting fashions in NEW WOOLS. (1964, March 4). The AustralianWomen's Weekly (1933 - 1982) p.34Coat in wool boucle with fur-lined hood won a gold medal award for Norma Tullo Pty.Ltd. Melbourne. About £26/18/6 - 1964
AUSTRALIAN WOOL FASHION AWARDS, 1965. (1965, March 24). The AustralianWomen's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 20MOD ENSEMBLE and matching cap in coin-spotted double-knit wool jersey. Won the Avant-garde Award for Norma Tullo Pty. Ltd., Melbourne. Approx, retail price, suit, £28/19/11, blouse, 8gns - 1965
DESIGNS THAT WON WOOL FASHION AWARDS, 1967. (1967, March 1). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 24Smart twosome. Flame-red wool twill coat and black-and white check wool dress. Slim coat has neat collar; skimmer dress has high yoke. Approx. $70. Fashion award for Norma Tullo Pty. Ltd
WOOL AWARDS, 1968. (1968, March 6). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933- 1982), p. 18Edwardian-inspired evening dress is made in black and white satin striped wool. The bodice has a ruffle trim. The dress won an award for Norma Tullo. Retail price $59 - 1968
Advertising. (1966, September 14). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 -1982), p. 56Advertisement for Berlei 1966 featuring a brown linen sleeveless dress by Norma Tullo - 1966

In 1966 her hard work was again rewarded with a new contract with Japanese department store Isetan.co. The project involved 15,000 garments to be sold in the first year worth around $700,000. The partnership would continue for many years and Norma’s’ designs were popular in Japan up until the early 80s

Norma Tullo preview August 1966 for Japanese department store Isetan

She travelled abroad to Europe often to gain inspiration would pick up on ideas and trends just making themselves popular in Europe and bring them home for her Australian customers. She noticed things like trapeze dresses and decided that these would be popular – lucky she noticed as they did become a major trend in 1967.

FLIMSY and FIGURED. (1968, September 11). The Australian Women's Weekly(1933 - 1982), p. 116 Supplement: MARCHIONESS FABRICFlimsy tent dress in stripe and plain voile has short raglan sleeves,contrast peter pan collar and bow. Butterick Young Designer Norma Tullo 4681, sizes 8, 10, 12, 14, 16. Price 75c includes postage - 1968


[No heading]. (1968, September 11). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933- 1982), p. 112 Supplement: MARCHIONESS FABRICCool and pretty dress (centre) with deep front inverted pleat and button trim and long bell-shaped sleeves.In surah fabric. Butterick Young Designer Norma Tullo 4685, sizes 8, 10,12, 14, 16. Price 75c - 1968

Slim, one-piece dress with bias collar and contrast bow, button trim. Sizes 70,72, 74, 76, 78 for 37, 32, 34, 36, 38in. bust. 4578 Butterick Young Designer (Norma Tullo) Pattern, price 75c inc. postage

SMASH SHAPES ON THE GO. (1968, September 11). The Australian Women'sWeekly (1933 - 1982), p. 110 Supplement: MARCHIONESS FABRICSlim one-piece dress (center back) in bouclaine-surah with flapped pockets and contrast cuffs and bow. Butterick Young Designer Norma Tullo 4518, sizes 10, 12, 14, 16, 18. Price 75c includes postage - 1968

ZINGY LOOK FOR SPECIAL PLACES. (1968, September 11).The AustralianWomen's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 115 Supplement: MARCHIONESS FABRICWhite is accented with black in this young style (second left) with pintucked front, self-ruffle and button trim, shirred front skirt, long sleeves. The fabric is voile. Butterick Young Designer Norma Tullo 4519 - 1968

In 1969 she was invited by Australian Vogue magazine with other prominent designers such as Prue Acton and Trent Nathan to design garments for the world renowned super model Veruschka. Norma designed for her a Chiffon tiger print flared cat suit which was available to buy for $224 – one month’s wages.

Her designs at the height of her popularity were sold in Australia, the US, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand and in 1972 she was made an MBE.

Norma enjoyed working with young people in her office and would often give jobs to people straight out of school. Employing 46 staff at her studio – she was not afraid to ask her staff for ideas and created a fun a relaxing place to work. The studio designed their own fabric focusing on a young, colourful and feminine look. Norma worked very hard to ensure her collections were to her high standard, even working while in hospital to have her first child.

She was married to Brian King – a successful businessman in his own right and they had a son Christopher born in 1965. They both enjoyed skiing as a hobby and owned a lodge in Victoria’s Falls creek ski town
For the EASTER RACE MEETINGS. (1968, April 3). The Australian Women'sWeekly (1933 - 1982), p. 96 Supplement: Weekly Fashion News Pretty pale blue coat dress is trimmed with gilt rimmed self buttons. Available in bone to. By Norma Tullo. 1016. About $30. (Curzons, 2nd Floor) - 1968

The Australian Women's Weekly Fashion News. (1969, August 6). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 39 Supplement: The Australian Women's Weekly Fashion NewsLong, pleated, and belted look of spring, 1969, in a crepe skirt and top by Norma Tullo. Contrast-scarf at the neckline. White, brown, or black.32-36. About $39.99. (David Jones'3rd Floor Casual Things, Sept 1.)
Source
Waffle patterned cotton style by Norma Tullo with V-neck, high waist, and chain pendant is slightly A-line with two slit pockets on skirt. Sizes 10-16. In black, tomato, gold. About $26. (David Jones' 2nd floor Young Idea Shop) - 1969


PARTY-TIME SCENE-STEALERS. (1969, August 20). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 54 Supplement: The Australian Women's Weekly Fashion NewsNorma Tullo cotton pantsuit with white ribbed flag-leg pants and a long, horizontally striped top. Thin belt at waist loops through two flap-pockets. In black/white or tan/white. 32-36. About $55.(David Jones' 3rd floor Casual Things) - 1969

Viyella autumn fashion forecast. (1969, March 19). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 61 Supplement: Viyella autumn fashion forecastHigh-waisted Aline evening dress, centre,with soft front and back simulated pleats, has short sleeves, a low scooped neckline, and fastens at back with a 20 in. mini weight Lightning nylon zipper. Attached ribbon belt and bow. Sizes 8, 10,12, 14 for 31 i, 32i, 34,36 in. bust. Butterick Young Designer Pattern 4924 by Norma Tullo, price 90c includes postage - 1969

Norma Tullo (left) chooses garments for a fashion shoot at her Melbourne studio, 1971

LIFE STYLE PEOPLE Tied-up for winter. (1972, April 19). The CanberraTimes (ACT : 1926 - 1995), p. 19Norma Tullo moves up to a new look of sophistication with her witty scarf suits for autumn/winter. Left, swinging pleats for a shirt-jacketed suit in a choice of red, purple, white, gold or black with toning striped lie ($74). Right, multi-stripes in tones of red/green, red/purple or camel/brown for a slim suit with kick-pleated skirt - 1972

By 1977 Tullo decided to close her business stating that there was no hope for the Australian Fashion industry and that the textile mills could no longer supply her with the quality fabric that she needed. Tullo did not want to have to buy imported fabric and endure the problems that came with it such as industrial strikes and other issues. However she did continue her collection in Japan for Isetan as it was under license.

But by 1980 Tullo was back, working with retail brand Fletcher Jones, in charge of womens wear but ended her collaboration with them by 1982

Norma presents her new line for Fletcher Jones 1981

Sportsgirl, a women’s fashion chain also stocked her designs in the 80s as well that of other popular designers. Unfortunately from that point I was not able to find much more about Norma and what she may be doing today. Not many articles tend to mention her much so perhaps she has simply gone into retirement – one hopes!

Tullo was not alone in her popularity. Other Aussie designers such as Prue Acton, Kenneth Pirrie and Mark Shaw were also quite prominent and their garments are still treasured by Aussie fashion collectors. 

Do you happen to own any Norma Tullo? Or perhaps you may even remember her when she was at her peak? Circa Vintage has a few of her garments on sale here that you can buy

I cant wait for my two patterns to arrive and to get started with them. Kinda feels like I'm bringing them home!

Enjoy your weekend!
Cat xo

Resources;
NORMA TULLO back to meet new fashion challenge. (1981, February 25). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 7. Retrieved January 25, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55463872 
Making a million doesn't interest Norma Tullo. (1966, August 10). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 22. Retrieved January 25, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article51972811
Butterick signs up Norma Tullo And we will feature her patterns. (1965, July 21). The Australian Women's Weekly(1933 - 1982), p. 5. Retrieved January 25, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46237771
Pattern images from Vintage Pattern Wiki

45 comments:

  1. This was really interesting! I especially like this ensemble: Flame-red wool twill coat and black-and white check wool dress.

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    1. How adorable is it! its such a mod little outfit! I'll have to remember it on those days i don't know what to wear

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  2. This was a really great and informative post - good researching! You've gotten some fantastic images too. I find it so hard to choose which design I love most. They are all so great and worth pining over. I think I'd have to say my favourites are the dresses from the Butterick 4898 and 4519 patterns. I'd love to have them in my closet. Excited to see your new creations too as always!

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    1. Thank you! There were so many images it was hard to cut them down. She designed such nice things though when i bought my sewing patterns, there wasn't as many around so could only get 4518 and 4207 - a cute dress and jacket pattern. Which I cant wait to make!

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  3. What an interesting and well researched post! I knew nothing about Norma so thanks for bringing her to my attention. I look forward to seeing how your dresses turn out! x

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    1. Thanks! I'd always heard of her, but didnt take much of a chance to research her before.

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  4. Hi Cat! Happy Australia day! I hope you have (or had) fun watching that movie projected on a sheet. Maybe you'll be prompted to write a review of it.

    This was a fantastic post about Normal Tullo, loaded with facts and illustrations! Memories came flooding back when I saw her dress designs. My girlfriend was a fashion bug and wore most of these styles. It's interesting to me that Norma's style was recognized as having "the American look" although I'm not entirely sure what all that encompasses.

    Imagine what it was like for me being young in the 60s and gazing in admiration at girls and women dressed this way. Nearly all of them did. Style was important there for a while. Then one day, midway through my college career, I turned around and found most young people dressing down and looking "grubby" in jeans, t-shirts and oversize sweatshirts. The glory years had ended. Thank you for helping bring it all back - alive.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend, dear Catherine!

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    1. Thank you! It was a really great night! it got a bit cool lying on the ground but it was made all the more pleasant by many glasses of wine. You should check out the movie! Apparently they made an American version - where they switched some words out to be more familiar to Americans ie meatloaf instead of rissoles!

      Anyway! im glad you like the post! I think the American look must have been clean lines, modest and simple colours. Perhaps ill find out in one of my future dressing the decade posts.

      It must have been strange to see such a huge change in style. Nowadays you can see any mixture of fashion walking down the street and no one bats an eye! I like both the clean and grubby so im ok with it!

      Take care!

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  5. Such great outfits! Lots of awesome looks here in a wide range of colors and styles. What a feast for the eyes. I had never heard of Norma so this was quite neat. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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    1. thank you! perhaps now you recognize the name, if you spot any of her things in the vintage stores you'll snap them up!

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  6. The great trapeze dress! Funny story: I guess it was about 1968, while in junior high, I had made a trapeze dress from a fun fabric that was - get this - orange with purple polka dots. (Medium sized polka dots spaced far enough apart so as not to be too busy.) It was very short but had matching shorts underneath.

    I wore it to school several times but after washing it the dress shrunk so that the shorts, which weren't supposed to show, ended up showing. So, rather than a dress it looked like a pair of shorts with a top - a definite violation of school rules. (Heck, were were lucky we could even wear the dress at all since it was so short, but they allowed it because of the shorts underneath)

    So one day, wearing the shrunken dress, I get sent to the office because the shorts were showing. They make me call my mom to either either bring me something else to wear or take me home to change and bring me back. This was not good because we lived a good 20 miles from the school. My mom refused. She told me that if I had to sit in the office all day, then too bad. (that was mom! lol )

    Well, the school wasn't too keen on me sitting in the office all day. Their ultimate solution? Hem UP the shorts! LOL So I sat in the office, hemmed up my shorts in one of the offices and went about my day.

    BTW, I had made another dress with the same pattern with a cool paisley print patten in teals and greens. Fortunately, that one didn't shrink so I could still wear it to school. As a matter of fact, I wore it that year for my school pictures so I still have a momento of it. Gosh, I loved those dresses!

    Sharon N

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    1. what a fantastic story! 1968 - im sorta jealous! How silly - the shorts had to be shorter then the dress! I hope that taught you to pre-shrink the fabric before you sewed though? I'd love to have seen it and your other dress. Do you still have them stored away?

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  7. Well, I am ashamed to say that I had not heard of Norma Tullo until now! Bless!
    I've certainly seen some of her designs, at least; some of those pix are quite familiar!
    She was rather awesome, I love so many of these garments!!! I could quite happily wear any or all of these!!! Excellent research, darling, such a great post!
    You'll be pleased to know that I did some sewing yesterday! EEP!
    XXX

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    1. oh my! i would have thought of all people? But thats ok. neither have my mum or dad. you must of had to have been really into fashion to know her. The patterns you might have seen around. theres a few floating around etsy to buy.

      And yay sewing! will we be seeing something on your blog soon?

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  8. Happy Australia Day Catherine! Some fabulous designs from Norma Tullo, had not seen them before.

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    1. hello! happy (belated) Australia day to you too!

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  9. I confess I know very little about Australia's history and so have never heard of Norma Tullo before, so this was a great post to read! Though some of the images feel familiar, so I've probably seen her designs without realising who they were by. Now I do! I particularly love dress pattern 4681 with that wonderful bow, I may even have to try and track it down so I can make it.

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    1. oh well i hope i can teach you more about us! we might be far away but were just as good :) She had such a good scope of design, i wouldn't be surprised if it looked familiar!
      Its a great bow isnt it! so long!

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  10. What an interesting post! I, like alot of the other commenters here, knew nothing about Norma until now. Happy Australia day :)

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    1. Happy Australia day! a little late for me though. She seems to be some kind of designer ghost. no one knows her! haha

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  11. such nice designs and interesting post! had no idea who norma tullo was - guess when it comes do the '60s most of people concentrate on british/french designers and end up forgetting the ones from the rest of the world! x

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    1. thanks! yes i know, i must admit shamefully i don't know as much about these Aussie designers as i should. Its not like the teach it in school. But thats why i do the research! then bring it to you all!

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  12. Great post, thank you. I suspect that I have a couple of those patterns inherited from my mother, certainly 3940 and 4685 look familiar. Wouldn't it be fabulous if she made a comeback? Sigh.

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    1. Ooh how great! I only inherited 70s and 80s patterns from my mum. If you ever decide you dont want 4685 let me know ;)
      I hope she is still alive and will just appear one day at some fashion retrospective!

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  13. So lovely! Very Jackie O!

    http://pinkchampagnefashion.blogspot.com/

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    1. yes! i reckon Jackie would have like some of her stuff!

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  14. Hi :) I'm Iwona and I am a blogger and illustrator :) I just found your blog, which is interesting and cute:) I really like it :) I would like to show you my blog and my illustrations and If you get a second, I' d love to hear your thoughts on topic my illustrations and blog:) I greet:)

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    1. hi there! thank you for your kind comment! Ill certainly take a look at your blog - all the best! xo

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  15. As an Aussie Mod, I love collecting vintage [and new] Mod-inspired patterns, be it designer or otherwise. I just bought 3 of Norma Tullo's patterns on etsy recently, including two of the Butterick patterns - 4518 and 4898 - as illustrated above! I look forward to making some of these dresses up for my Mod wardrobe! Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Joy, joy, joy!

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    1. Oh their just wonderful aren't they? i got 4518 which I think ill save for winter sewing. 4898 is a cute one! Do you have a blog or instagram where you show what you make? id love to see it!

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  16. Hi Catherine, I used to have a blue coat by Norma Tullo that I bought when I started working. It took quite a while to pay it off on layby but it was worth it. Unfortunately my mother eventually gave it away but she kept the buttons because everytime the coat had to be drycleaned she would have to take off all the buttons and then resew them back on. If anyone is interested in them they are blue material surrounded by a gold pattern, six small (sleeves) and eleven (one spare) for the coat front.

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    1. wow! that it so exciting! i totally would have done the same with a layby. pitty hardly any stores do it nowadays! If you interested in selling those buttons, send me an email with an image! i collect buttons so this would be a nice addition to the collection! xo

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    2. I seem to have lost that post but will try again.
      In 1965/66 I had a Norma Tullo in burnt orange with halter neck buttoned at back with strip down the back in linen type fabric. I didn't know there were patterns but I made 2 versions of the dress over the years. I also had another in linen with aqua top and 2 large white buttons and white skirt.
      I loved her clothes
      Cheers Eve

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    3. ooh thats so cool! i wish her stuff was easier to find in the op shops!

      I think your comment might have disappeared because i have a filter on for old blog posts? but anyway, thank you for commenting!

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  17. Joy March 28th 2015 at12.10 am
    I not only wore Norma Tullo's clothes, I also worked for her around 1969/1970 at her Boutique in Toorak Road, I also had the exciting privilege of selling the amazing chiffon tiger cat suit that was made for Veruschka, to a very attractive women, however she was much shorter than Veruschka, and the garment had to be altered, my recollections are that it was a Ms Baillieu also from Toorak, wonder if she was connected to Ted

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    1. hello! Firstly apologies for taking so long to publish and reply to your comment and thank you for dropping in to read and comment. I hope i did Norma justice. What an amazing story! I wonder also if they are related? ill have to google that, but wow how amazing i'd love to hear more about what it was like to work there in the late 60s. From memory Toorak is upmarket am i correct? So no Carnaby street style shenanigans i'm thinking? Did you ever get to meet Norma? I hope she was a lovely person. I still wonder all the time where she is now!

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  18. Hello,
    I am Norma Tullo's grand daughter. I am really touched by you post and interest in my Gran and her work. I am happy to inform you that she is still happily living in Melbourne and busy being an amazing Gran to three grandchildren myself included. I was delighted to find this information on my gran and to be able to add some more detail to the many stories she has told me. She still has a interest in fashion as she often sends me clippings and photos of designs she likes and I have many memories of designing fairy clothing with her as a child. she is very inspiring and an amazing role model for me.
    Regards,
    Sophie King

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    1. sorry for making your write twice! I have a blocker on for comments on old posts. i should take it off!!

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  19. Hello,
    I am Norma Tullo's grand daughter. I am touched and appreciate you post and interest in my Grans work. I am happy to inform you that Gran is still living in Melbourne and is busy being an amazing Gran to three grandchildren myself included. I enjoyed reading your post and adding more information to the many stories my Gran has told me. Gran still loves fashion and often sends me clippings and pictures of designs she likes. I have memories of designing and creating fairy clothing and watching many French movies with her when I was younger and I am still very close to her now (I am in my early teens). She is a very inspiring lady and is a great role model. Thank you for writing such an amazing post on my Gran!
    Regards,
    Sophie King

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    1. oh my goodness! its so wonderful to hear from you and thank you for taking the time to comment! Although the Aussie fashion industry doesn't often pay much attention to past designers, i really hope she understands that she is truly appreciated by 60s lovers especially myself! Please let her know she still has fans even today, making her dresses! I made up one of her designs its called the Olivia dress http://sewingthe60s.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/olivia-giveaway-winner.html
      She had such beautiful designs in the 60s and 70s!

      thank you again for finding this little blog post and letting me know that your gran, Mrs Tullo is alive and well!

      Take care! xoxo

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  20. Thanks Catherine love this site and thanks Sophie for the update always wondered how she was. I was her messaging girl I would run to flinders lane with her samples she was the Classic designer loved her Maxi coats with mini skirts the year of the sixties.Sharyn

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    1. Hi Sharyn! How great to hear from you! i hope she was a lovely person to work for? Thanks for commenting and apologies for the late reply :)

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  21. Dear Catherine,
    I've just been looking through some negatives of my father's (Brian McArdle) that he took of Norma in July 1962 (he was editor of Walkabout magazine), and came across all the wonderful biographical information you've included here...so exciting to see her granddaughter appreciating this too! Really Norma should have an entry on Wikipedia...may I assist with that?
    Regards,
    James McArdle

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    1. Hi James! Wonderful to hear from you - im glad we have a shared interest in Norma! You are definitely more then welcome to write up a wikipedia article - i hope none of my links above have expired. I wouldn't know how to do that so please do go ahead! perhaps you can include some pics from your fathers archive?

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  22. Thanks, so much, for the article. I was working in Melbourne in the '60's. What a fabulous time for fashion -- garments made beautifully in quality fabrics. Even though I mainly made my own, I loved getting the stylish patterns and following the trends. Was this why I ended up with a fashion boutique in the 1980's, in another Country? Your article brought back good memories of a great time.

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