Photo of Clarence Chai with a description of his career to date, and view of one of his garments from the Woman's Day
Media clipping titled, “A Guy Called Chai”, Woman’s Day, April 24, 1978, RMIT Design Archives, Gift of Clarence Chai 2022.
Past Event

Clarence Chai: Into the Archives

Presented by RMIT Design Archives


Fri 26 May 11:00am - 12:00pm


Donation, booking required


RMIT Design Archives
RMIT University, La Trobe Street, Melbourne VIC, Australia


Accessible bathroom All gender bathroom Low sensory / relaxed Seating available Wheelchair accessible

Singapore-born Melbourne designer Clarence Chai is a superstar in Melbourne’s design and fashion history. A pioneer of independent and youth fashion in the 1970s and 1980s, Chai was initially trained as a graphic designer at Prahran Technical College (1964-65) and then the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (1966-1967). From 1968 until 1971, he worked with a succession of eminent Melbourne graphic designers including Gary Emery, Lyndon Whaite, and Brian Sadgrove. In 1970 Chai and Paul Craft established Paraphernalia (first known as Decomania) in Metropole Arcade, Melbourne, collecting, trading and retailing important decorative arts from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, before establishing his fashion business in Crossley Lane in 1974.

This event marks the first public viewing of Clarence Chai’s Archive. The guest speaker is Dr. Sally Gray, a writer, curator and cultural historian who played a key role in bringing Chai’s archive to Melbourne and RMIT University.

During Melbourne Design Week, the RMIT Design Archives’ Gallery Window will also showcase the Chai collection with an installation designed by RMIT University’s Master of Communication Design Students.

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