Historical society celebrates iconic Campbelltown dressmaker May Clissold

If you're looking for a touch of glamour to spice up your week, why not head out to Glenalvon?

The Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society is celebrating the work of one of Campbelltown's most prominent dressmakers - May Clissold - with an exhibition at the iconic Lithgow Street home.

Clissold's story is explored in the historical society's latest Grist Mills publication.

Society member and author Julie Crowley said everyone she spoke to for the book described the dressmaker as "elegant" and "lovely".

"I started to look into all the events that she made dresses for, like the first debutante ball after the war in 1947, and various weddings," Ms Crowley said.

"She made all the gowns for the Legacy Ball.

"She was working in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s."

Ms Crowley was able to track down about a dozen original Clissold creations from people across Australia.

Some were donated from Berry, Mollymook, Queensland, Cremorne Point and more.

The garments on display at Glenalvon are mostly wedding dresses from the 1960s.

"What May was very good at was creating exactly what her customer wanted, without needing templates or anything," Ms Crowley said.

"She would see what the person wanted and what she had to work with, and she could do it all."

Ms Crowley said Clissold operated her business from a building called Athelstone, which had a footpath to Queen Street.

It wasn't a shopfront in the traditional sense and the Clissolds lived in the building.

The latest Grist Mills also goes into Campbelltown's history of debutante balls and explores the life and work of noted local photographer Geoff Eves.

"The book has plenty of his great photos," Ms Crowley said.

"A lot of people know the Geoff's work, but not a lot know where he lived or what he did. This is a portrait of the man behind the camera, sharing a story of his own."

Grist Mills is available for purchase during Glenalvon House open days - where visitors can also explore the May Clissold collection. The book can also be bought at the Campbelltown Visitor Information Centre.

Locals who are self-isolating and wish to pick up a copy can call Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society president Kay Hayes on 0418 493 676 and she can arrange the book to be mailed.