During patriotic festivals during World War One many young (and not so young) women in Australia wore patriotic dress to show their loyalty and fervor for victory.
[ Added 20 Sep 2009 : I've been thinking about what I wrote here earlier today. It may be that this photograph was not taken during World War One. There are other photographs on record in Australian cultural institutions showing similar costumes worn outside the World War One period. I'll nedd to check more to narrow it down.]
This is a photograph of a very distant relative wearing one such costume. Here wearing the Union Flag instead of the flag of Australia. The riband on her left lapel says "FRANCE" and on her right lapel "ENGLAND". The colours would have been red, white and blue, emblematic of the flag colours of all three allied countries.
The border of the photograph bears the handwritten caption, "Aunty Rae."
I have seen photographs elsewhere of women wearing similar costumes, but at the moment I'm unsure what it is called. One scholar has told me it is related to the French Marianne - a symbol of the French Republic - but I am unsure at the moment how it came to be so popular as a patriotic display here in Australia as opposed to say, Brittania.
There is a photograph held by the Mortlock State Library of South Australia of a group of women wearing patriotic fancy dress during World War I, (circa 1917) which shows some very similar costumes.
Although you cannot tell from the view on this blog, Anty Rae is wearing long white gloves of very fine material - perhaps silk. Her shoes are covered in material and have a bow on the top above the toes. The bracelet around her left wrist has a motif in the middle of each disc.
Below is a photograph taken, I would say, a few years later, of the young woman getting married.
The reverse of this photograph bears the handwritten dedication, "To alma & Jack With love from Auntie & Uncle."
I have another photograph dedicated by Aunty, where she calls herself "Ray", so there was some discrepancy within the family about how her forename was spelled.
Some Australian history for you...
1. The Australian War Memorial blog has a very interesting bit about a patriotic costume made for, and worn by, Mrs. Ratigan during World War I.
2. The Queensland State Library has an outstanding comparison photograph of this patriotic fancy dress here.