PIECES from the Darnell Collection Vintage Couture will be modelled as one of the main events of Ballarat Heritage Weekend.
Collection curator and custodian Charlotte Smith said the collection demonstrated changes in social history.
Her godmother, who was fascinated by outfits and the stories behind them, started the collection in 1937.
Ms Smith inherited the collection in 2004, which had grown to about 3500 items with outfits from 1750 up until the 1960s.
Since taking on the collection, Ms Smith has had many donations and expanded the collection herself, and now it has about 8000 garments.
Ms Smith said it was the largest private collection in Australia.
“It shows a timeline and what people would have worn in Ballarat through the direct decades,” Ms Smith said.
“Fashion is the fabric of life.”
She said about 12 of the dresses would be modelled in the fashion shows, running twice a day during Ballarat Heritage Weekend.
Cr Samantha McIntosh said the Heritage Weekend celebrated all parts of history and not just the gold rush.
“It’s not just buildings that make up Ballarat’s history, but the cultural and social aspects to,” Cr McIntosh said. “Fashion is great way to highlight how time has changed.”