Meet Glennis Murphy – Over the Top Vintage

Images from Over the Top Vintage shop in Botany, Sydney

Meet the fabulous Glennis Murphy. Glennis has a Vintage shop called Over the Top Vintage at Lunatiques and is, by her own description, a collector. Read her story ...

"It’s funny, I wouldn’t have thought I would end up here collecting vintage. When I was a child I was always collecting shells and feathers, I had a nature study table in infants school and then graduated onto collecting animal skulls. First of all I found some sheep skulls in a rainforest also people used to find me things. I had a cubby house which was my museum. It was lined with shelves of skulls you name it. People thought I was really weird. In fact my Aunty Millie, who is 99 and half now, wrote me a letter that said you know Glennis live animals are much nicer than dead animals.

It must have been the fascination of collecting. My mother used to take me to the museum, but I would live in the museum that was my cubby house. So there has always been this thing of collecting and enjoying the display of shells, jars of spiders that my father had killed in the garden. There were even funnel-web spiders…. We didn’t know about them then, there were centipedes all sorts of things.

I remember walking to the butcher to buy a pig’s head so I could boil the meat off and have a pig’s skull. It was a bit bizarre."

tMy brother worked in the anatomy Department of Sydney University and he, my mother and I, were allowed to go in and look at all of the specimens I think you were meant to be a doctor. I found it so fascinating legs in glass jars all those glass jars. I think I thought I’d be an Osteologist or something and study bones.

But it didn’t happen. I randomly became a dancer. I was going to be a social worker and then went to a school of modern dance and the teachers said you should be a dancer, and I thought OK I’ll be a dancer. I took off on a tangent. I think the love of fabrics and dresses started to synthesize then. I went onto have a career as a dancer in Musicals and Operas, went to England …. did Television shows …. but always loved the fabrics in the costumes and I thought maybe I could be a wardrobe mistress or something when I stop dancing.

We would go to markets everywhere and you’d pick up wonderful items in England it was so exciting and then I discovered there was an antique clothing market in Winchester. Then we got really broke and we had to sell all my antique clothes that I'd collected in various jumble sales …. But it kept us fed for a while. But I still kept collecting.

We ( You and Indris?) came back to Australia, I kept dancing and I guess when it came to have one child I went back to dancing but after the second child I thought it was time to give the dancing up.

Then I studied to become a horticulturalist, and my job was collecting. I was collecting plants, pests, different soils, I loved the thrill of looking in the bush and finding the right plant, you’d be looking at the soil the rocks.

So I was collecting dance steps when I was a dancer, collecting vintage on the side and then collecting plants for the nursery. I was carer for my elderly mother for a while. Our oldest son came back from overseas and said mum we’ ve got to start a business selling vintage clothes. You’ve got vintage clothes I’ve got vintage clothes so we had a little shop in Mitchell Road Alexandria. So that’s how it started.

Dave and Laura the people who run lunatiques , where I am now, also had a shop at Mitchell Road and later at the Sydney Antique centre. ….. so I’m still collecting collecting,

I also thought it would be good if people could see some of these things I’d collected as well as selling them. I had a hat exhibition for history week with a woman called Lyn Murray at the Antique Centre, we displayed all our wares. We had another for old Government House at Parramatta it was called “Clothing the People Edwardian fashion and wartime fashion it was another history week project. The National Trust really liked it so it went on for months it was very popular. That was a combination of my collection and the National Trust collection. So its nice to have a project not just to hoard them away but to share them.

LG: Do you collect a particular period?

In the seventies I collected 30’s 40’s and 50’s and I used to wear them. But now I’m older and my figure has really changed I can’t wear the 50’s but I like the 60’s style which is straight up and down and I like an Edwardian jacket over jeans. I’ve got a 1920’s jacket on at the moment so mixing and matching. So Edwardian 60’s and 20’s are the main things I like to collect.

But I do sell everything, stuff from the 80’s 60’s I don’t keep the 20’s stuff in the shop because they are so fragile they would fall apart just hanging on hanger. I love all vintage, it’s the quality and the style I look for.

My life is collecting, our house is collecting we are mad. I love hats, I don’t look so good in hats some women look so fantastic in hats.

LG: So where do you find the Vintage now ?

Well its really hard. I have amassed a lot. I cant find anything in Charity shops anymore, I still look just in case there is a treasure but I don’t find much Charity shops because they throw stuff out if its got a hole….but you know people don’t care they’ll darn it !

I do go to auctions, but I do get disappointed ..that’s a bit hard ….but I did find a green Victorian dress that was died with Arsenic and no one wanted to touch it, I bought it, because it has a story and it ended up going off to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto for 3 years, they had a fashion victims show over there ….Sometimes people come in with relatives clothes, grandmother has died. I used to buy online but everything has gone up with the dollar .

Do you travel overseas?

My husband, Indris, is an artist so when we go overseas I do go to markets … if there is a fair you never know what you are going to find…the French have amazing things so I love to going overseas.

LG: Maybe kids will return to Vintage when they get sick of Fast Fashion and we take sustainability seriously?

Yes I hope so, because we can’t keep going down this track with people in the fashion industry working as slaves. The buy it and throw it out mentality. Things used to be made to last. And handed down through generations and then remade at least 3 times . It’s a horrible throw away world we live in ….. if we are starting to deal with the plastic bags then we should be looking at the throw away fashion.



Instagram : overthetopvintage

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Comments 3

  1. Hi Glennis
    Enjoyed reading the above so much. What a great creative life you’ve had and continue to have. Great photo of you and hope to visit Your Over the Top shop real soon!

  2. Glennis has been a dear friend for many years and has a fascinating life, travelling with her artist husband Idris. While he paints, she goes hunting for vintage clothing. She came on a trip with me to Mexico in 2016. We had such fun looking for hats and clothing for her collection. We tracked down this amazing vintage shop in a beautiful colonial town, San Miguel de Allende, and spent the day trying on clothes. It was run by a very flamboyant American woman in her 80s who wore a brightly patterned caftan and cowboy boots, and although only 11am, had a margarita in her hand. What a day!

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