If, like Gil Pender in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, you long for a better time – a more stylish, creative and free time, full of wonder and laissez-faire* – then this weekend’s sale at the Como Ballroom in aid of the National Trust Victoria Costume Collection (NTVCC) might be for you.

Every day the trust receives donated items from generous people. Special as they might be, not everything can be accepted. Inclusion into the NTVCC dictates that the pieces must have local and historical significance. Dressmakers from Black Rock and Ballarat of the 19th century hang alongside handmade Edwardian children’s shoes. A little girl’s party dress from a maker in Warrnambool dates to the turn of last century and has been tested by a forensic scientist only to find traces of rouge, ink and toffee. Sounds like a good time. The stains are now worn like badges of honour, the mess all part of story.

It goes on and on like this, from hatboxes, parlour aprons and smoking caps through to ephemera and memorabilia. But it’s not all frills and lace; the collection contains significant pieces from every era, all helping to define Victoria’s history. A kind of Who do you think you are? for a whole state if you will.

It’s a proper archive with entertainment and humour at every turn; the stories that can be (and have been) found put amazed and amused smiles on faces and certainly make us richer for it.

But squeezed into the servant’s quarters of Labassa in Caulfield, another fading jewel in the National Trust of Victoria’s property portfolio, is no home for a collection such as this and maintenance is a nightmare, requiring constant attention and upkeep.

That’s where you come in. This weekend’s sale is to keep the party going and make sure we’re more aware of great assets like the Costume Collection and more involved with Victoria’s (and by default our own) history. So, if you meander your way down to the Como Ballroom this weekend, you’ll find a department store or sorts featuring designer garments and accessories, millinery and menswear from all eras.

No guarantees for slipping back in time, but if you do, you’ll be dressed for it.

And if you’re a romantic, there’s a chance of rain.

*That’s French!

Como House Ballroom
Saturday March 17 and Sunday March 18
Cnr Williams Road and Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

Labassa is open on the third Sunday of every month or by appointment 10.30am–4.30pm, 2 Manor Grove Caulfield (03) 9527 6295