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Paula Stafford men's cabana set

Date: 1950s
Overall: 770 x 510 mm
Medium: Cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Cabana set
Object No: V00006149
Place Manufactured:Surfers Paradise

User Terms

    This man's cabana set was designed in the 1950s by Paula Stafford. Worn over swimming trunks, it uses reversible fabric, a loud abstract print on one side and plain grey on the other, repeating both button and pocket detailing on both sides.

    By the 1950s men's swimwear mirrored women's trends in fabric and detailing. The cabana set, consisting shorts and matching over shirts or jackets in geometric patterns, was hugely popular.

    Paula Stafford is remembered as one of the first bikini designer/manufacturers in Australia, designing and selling bikinis on Queensland's Gold Coast from as early as 1946. She gradually expanded her business and promoted the bikini in Sydney and Melbourne and later successfully exported to the UK and Asia.

    SignificanceThis cabana set is representative of Australian men's beachwear fashions from the 1950s.
    HistoryAustralian Paula Stafford is credited with introducing the French two-piece swimming costume to Queensland and designing the world's first reversible bikini in the late 1940s.

    Stafford's early bikinis were tied at the side or knotted at the front and were daringly brief compared to other swimwear on the Australian market. They challenged dress codes on Queensland and Sydney beaches where the bikini was banned in the late 1940s.

    In the mid 1950s Stafford opened a boutique in Surfers Paradise, the Paula Stafford Fiesta Tog Shop and organised Australia's first bikini fashion parade as part of the Holiday and Travel Exhibition at Sydney's Town Hall. Stafford then began supplying retailers such as David Jones, Myer, Georges and Buckleys as well as exporting to Great Britain, the United States and Hong Kong.

    By the 1970s Stafford employed sixty people in her Gold Coast based business. Her swimsuits and beachwear were sold world wide competing favourably with French designs. Paula Stafford retired in 1985.

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