Jessica of Stone’s
Jessica Simon (née Stone) was a recognisable figure in Ballarat during the mid-20th century.
Fashion director, clothing designer, retailer, philanthropist, world traveller and local style icon in her own right, Jessica played a key part in the management of her family’s business, Stone’s Drapery Store. She also undertook an active role in the Ballarat community through her charity work and media appearances.
Born Jessie Dorothy Stone on 14 July 1906 in Ballarat, she later preferred to use the name “Jessica.” Her parents, Bernard and Hannah Stone, were members of a well-respected, devoutly Jewish family who had operated a clothing store in Ballarat since 1860. They also had four sons, of whom three survived infancy: Simeon, Victor and Marcus.
Jessica’s interest in fashion began at an early age, and upon leaving school, she worked at Stone’s with her brother Marcus. In the 1940s, she met businessman and numismatist Paul Simon. Following their wedding in 1949, the couple formed a successful professional partnership with Marcus as co-Directors at Stone’s. Although Jessica and Paul had no children, they shared a very happy life together until Paul’s death in 1972.
After Jessica’s death in 1982, Marcus donated her large collection of costumes, photographs, documents and ephemera to the Gold Museum. This exhibition aims to use this collection to explore the life of the woman who was known to the Ballarat public as “Jessica of Stone’s.”