Colonial dressmaker dies aged 78

A colonial dressmaking specialist has died in hospital after collapsing from heart failure.

Kathryn Stenner, 78, who lived in Sydney’s north-west, had been working at Colonial Dressmaker in Sydney for seven years and died at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on Sunday morning.

She was originally from New South Wales and had previously worked in Melbourne, Adelaide and Melbourne, before returning to Australia in the 1970s.

Dr Stenning, who was originally a medical consultant, had a long career working in the health sector, and was an honorary member of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

“She was one of the most important dressmakers I know, she was the first to introduce modern-day seamstresses to the world of dressmaking,” Dr Stenners son told

In a statement, Colonial Dressmakers founder and president Paul Gillett said: “We extend our deepest condolences to Karen’s family and friends.

Karen was a great role model for young seamstress, and will be greatly missed.”

She also taught at Royal College of Dermatology and had received an honorary degree from the University of Melbourne.

It was reported her husband, Paul Gillingham, died at the age of 91 on November 12.

An inquest into his death is due to be held in December.

A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said the death was being treated as unexplained and a post-mortem examination would be held later.

Colonial Dressmakers owner and founder Paul Gillsham is pictured in this undated handout photo.

Colonial Dressmaking was founded in 1884 and is now one of Australia’s largest heritage dressmaking companies.

According to the company website, it was established in 1885 by a group of seamstressed Victorian seamstees who had no formal education and were working on their own.

The company was a pioneer in modern-style dressmaking and pioneered the use of natural fabrics, such as silk and silk ribbons.

Mr Gillinghausen was a member of Victoria’s Victorian Royal Society of Arts, the Australian Institute of Technology, the Royal Australian College of Arts and the Victorian College of Physicians.

He died on November 22, a day after his son and grandson had planned to celebrate his 90th birthday.

His son and granddaughter were also on the anniversary of his death, but said they would not be taking part in a birthday celebration.

They said they were not sure whether he would be attending the party or attending the funeral.

‘The dressmaker was her life’ Paul Gillinghan, daughter of Colonial DressMaker founder and founder of Colonial Dresses, speaks to media outside his home in Melbourne’s north.

Paul was an excellent seamstress, his daughter Kirsty Gillinghans said.

We don’t know if he’s going to be there.

We just hope he’s doing something else.

Mrs Gillinghorn said Colonial Dress makers was always associated with his father and grandfather.

Her father had a passion for the arts and had been a prominent painter, so it was important to him to be involved with Colonial Dames.

While Mr Gillinghein was not a member or an employee of the company, his grandson and granddaughter worked at Colonial Docks, which Mr Gillshans founded.

Victorian police said they had been notified of the death and were assisting with inquiries.

Victoria Police Commissioner Stuart Parks said the incident was not believed to be suspicious.

Earlier this year, Colonial Dists founder PaulGillingham said the company had grown rapidly over the years, adding: “It’s a company I’m proud to call my father’s.

This company has been around for a long time, but it’s grown exponentially.”

He said he believed Colonial Dress Maker was part of a bigger heritage of Victorian seam stuis, and would be proud to be the first Australian company to have a global reach.

“I hope the rest of the world will follow us on this path,” he said.

“If you’ve got an idea of how to make something, you’ve gotta go out and start doing it.”