Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Profiles in Etiquette — June Dally-Watkins

The Australian elocution, etiquette and modeling circles grieve for June Dally-Watkins, whom shall forevermore remain synonymous with elegance, grace, etiquette and poise. The doyenne of Australian etiquette, and the Australian Amy Vanderbilt of her time, she inspired men and women to aspire to good manners, humanity, eloquence and kindness throughout the decades. In doing so, she created a legacy that etiquette teachers such as myself aspire to furthering. My thoughts are with her family at this time. — Elizabeth Soos (picture from jdwbrisbane)

June Dally-Watkins, as photographed by Max Dupain, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to business in 1993. — public domain photo, source Australian National Gallery

Australia's first etiquette doyenne and true style icon was June Dally-Watkins. She was the woman who brought good posture, carriage and good manners to Australia, which was said to be a Herculean task, but seen as vital for those who aspired to all of the finer things in life.

Born to humble circumstances in 1927 near Tamworth, in New South Wales, she became Australia's first “supermodel.” Her stunning looks set her on the path to modeling and in 1949, Watkins was crowned Australia’s ”Model of the Year.” In 1950, she established the June Dally-Watkins School of Deportment. A testament to her popularity, style and grace, the school is still in operation today.

Over the years, Watkins trained hundreds of Australian women and men in deportment, becoming Australia's best known style and etiquette expert, after she established the first modeling agency in Australia in 1951. Later, she opened a business college. 

She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1993 for services to business, and was named as one of the 100 Australian Legends and a National Treasure. According to News.com.au, Ms Dally-Watkins spent her final years teaching etiquette to young women in China. “They want to be westernised, the Chinese,” Mrs Dally-Watkins told 2GB last year. “They want to have good western manners. They want to know how to carry their body.”

Overnight on February 23rd, her family announced she passed away peacefully, with her family at her side. Ms Dally-Watkins is survived by her four children, her seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

For many years, Etiquipedia’s newest contributor, Elizabeth Soos, has had a keen interest in cultural customs. With her European background and extensive travel, Soos developed an interest in the many forms of respect and cultural expectations in the countries she has visited. With her 20 years’ experience in customer service within private international companies based in Australia, and her lifetime interest in manners and research, she decided to branch out into the field of etiquette and deportment. Through her self-directed studies and by completing the Train-The-Trainer’s course offered by Emma Dupont’s School of Etiquette in London and by Guillaume Rue de Bernadac at Academie de Bernadac based in Paris and Shanghai, she founded Auersmont School of Etiquette.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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