fashion museum launches

There seems to be something about New Zealander’s ‘can do’ attitude that means we often decide to do things differently.  Instead of opening a New Zealand Fashion Museum in the confines of bricks and mortar, they have instead decided to open the world’s first on-line museum.  That way the archives are open to anyone with a computer, or access to a computer.  From design students to those reminiscing about ‘those days’, the museum is a wonderful concept and an even better tool. It took three solid years of fundraising by the tireless Doris De Pont, Diane Ludwig and their team to get to this point, of finally opening their virtual doors.

The museum features the photographic records of garments and accessories from the Fashion Museum’s prior exhibitions (Looking Terrific: The Story of El Jay, Black in Fashion and HOME SEWN) and video footage from the exhibitions.  Whilst the New Zealand Fashion Museum curated content currently dominates the collections this is expected to change as the collection grows beyond the Fashion Museum’s own exhibition programme.

As with the Fashion Museum’s pop up exhibitions, which rely on borrowing rather than collecting garments, a significant portion of the online museum’s historical content will be collected in collaboration with others.  We Are Mouse website developers for the project have created the platform for other Museums, Libraries, fashion designers, the fashion industry and individuals passionate about fashion’s past, to upload and share their own historical content directly onto the site.

The user upload will enable the Fashion Museum to collect some of the oral history and living knowledge about the New Zealand fashion industry and experience that may otherwise be lost. It will also provide the possibility of bringing together what is already recorded but housed in range of collecting institutions and within existing publications.   It’s hoped that this broad reaching and inclusive process will accelerate the accumulation of the New Zealand’s fashion history in this one central portal.

Those who would like to share content can do so by visiting the UPLOAD section of the site.  This feature alone makes the site a dynamic place to keep visiting as new content is loaded daily.  The UPLOAD feature has only gone live recently, but already there is some promising content including a pair of suede shoes from the 1960s manufactured in New Zealand under the label Schiaparelli, with designer and manufacturer unknown.  It’s easy to see how those who may know more can contribute to filling in the missing pieces of our fashion history.

Fashion Museum Founder and Trustee, Doris de Pont says “Over 100,000 New Zealanders have already been to our pop-up exhibitions.  We anticipate our web reach will be considerably larger as our online museum relays information from our prior exhibitions, the digital collections, historic images and narratives and it is open 24/7”. Love it.

Their next physical exhibition is Age Of Aquarius: A 70’s Revolution, 14 September – 13 October 2013  10-5pm  Monday to Saturday.   It will be a Koha entry and will be held on the Ground Floor, Geyser Building, 100 Parnell Road.

The exhibition captures the individuality the 1970’s, where freedom was the status quo.    Expect to see a lithe and languid silhouette clad in an abundance of colour and print regardless of gender, and clothes that expressed your individuality.  Think peace symbols, ankhs and love beads, psychedelic prints, ethnic embroideries, hair, lots of it and the ubiquitous bell bottom trousers for men and women and you have a brief style summation of the era.

It was an era when the status quo was challenged – the assumption that women would simply stay at home and raise children was not so quickly accepted. Women in the workforce, and the whole wage debate (women being paid LESS to do the same work). Vietnam – and the war there, nuclear testing, – even the damming of Lake Manapouri and Te Anau for cheap electricity were political lightening rods of the day.

The exhibition provides a visual record of this time in our history, including approximately 60 men’s and women’s garments sourced from private collections and spanning a huge range of styles and the variety in methods of production; from the mass production of Society to boutique production by the likes of Hullabaloo, from traditional couturiers like Colin Cole to the new artisan makers like Susan Holmes, and one-off work found in local boutiques like Pussyfooting or Superstud, to the burgeoning market scene represented by places like Cook St (especially the Markets there which I remember going to as a child) and Victoria St.

With garments borrowed as in previous exhibitions – expect to see hidden gems from wardobes of ordinary women, designers and everyone in-between. I can’t wait!

70's New Zealand label BLACK SHEEP - modelled by dancer Mary-Jane and Phil O'Reilly

70’s New Zealand label BLACK SHEEP – modelled by dancer Mary-Jane and Phil O’Reilly



Rolling Stone Concert, Western Springs 1973

Rolling Stone Concert, Western Springs 1973


Christchurch designer Zora Price in the 70's in her creations...

Christchurch designer Zora Price in the 70’s in her creations…


This dress features in the exhibition, Zora Price

This dress features in the exhibition, Zora Price





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