The interior of a clothing factory: Picturing Canterbury

The interior of a clothing factory [1909]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 9, IMG0012.
The interior of a clothing factory. The people standing at the end of the middle tables are operating irons.

Date: 1909.

Do you have any photographs of factories in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Kōrerorero mai – Join the conversation

“Wear only one interesting piece of clothing at a time”

Supported by the strength of a cult following of dedicated, fashion‐forward young men around the globe, designer Mark McNairy has risen from an under‐the‐radar favorite to a driving force in contemporary American style

9780062377401 Mark McNairy’s book F**K Ivy has hit the library shelves. (As the title might indicate the book is not for those of you who prefer their books expletive free).  Mr McNairy sees himself as the sort of guy who tells it like it is – bad words and all.

He starts off with thoughts on jeans –  “Levis … Period”.

How to care for jeans? “Don’t wash them.  Dirt is like cool” … and remember that “your cap does not have to match your sneakers”.

This is a book to pick up and read in ten minutes with plenty of pictures and often just a few words on each page.  I quite like his style, it’s simple, based on tradition with a twist, and his clothes are not made in 3rd world sweatshops.  He is however a man full of contradictions. In one breath he announces that rules are supposed to be broken, and then proclaims that you  should never, never, never button the bottom on any jacket, and that brown brogues are the first pair of proper shoes you should buy.

So if you like your fashion with a touch of grit, mixed in with some humour, confidence, and attitude (plus  few choice words) then check Mark McNairy out.

See more on our fashion page.

Beauties (2)

Cover: Love looks not with the eyesThe big beautiful books just keep on coming and who am I to turn them away? I have a new category (a list can’t be far away) – “Books too big to be taken home”.

Love looks not with the eyes is a collection of over 400 photographs of the work of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Anne Deniau is a French woman who photographed the models backstage at Givenchy, where she met McQueen when he did his first collection there. Their relationship continued for the next 13 years until McQueen’s sad death.

The photographs are very beautiful, but the really interesting thing about them is that they are taken behind the scenes – there are none of the models on the runway and the clothes really star. All the amazing details are here to be examined: the embroidery, the make-up, the hats, the sets. Also seeing how the beautiful genetic freaks that are the models tower over the ordinary mortals who design, make and fit the clothes. And how many of the models smoke.

Cameron Silver has a bachelor’s degree in theatre and after he graduated he began a career as a modern-dayCover: Decades interpreter of Weimar cabaret songs.  While travelling the United States interpreting, he visited second-hand shops, finding some great men’s clothes but lots more women’s. With the soul of a true collector he bought them without quite knowing what he was going to do with them.

Other true collectors also buy things without knowing what they are going to do with them – generally what they do with them is stuff them into already crowded cupboards, telling themselves they will mend, alter, display or in some way use them.  Cameron Silver is made of sterner and richer stuff. He decided to retire from interpreting and open a vintage couture boutique in Beverly Hills, specialising in “only the finest pre-worn clothing”. Not only that, but the clothing had to look modern.

After he’d been buying and selling these clothes for 12 years or so, he decided to write about them. Decades, a look at clothes from the 1900s to the 1990s, is the result. And what a result. The book  combines lovely big photographs from fashion magazines with publicity shots of movie stars, and well-written observations of how fashion changed as society did. It’s really worth a good poring over, but park near the entrance of the library if you plan on taking it home.

Work that skirt!

Search our library catalogue for books on fashion sewing

Skirts are great things to wear. Want to have some fun? Try a skirt binge!

When you’re feeling low, ungraceful or bored, just put on a wacky skirt with crazy colours (or an elegant skirt you would wear out) and feel the transformation! In summer, when you’re seriously considering moving to Antarctica, try wearing that light muslin skirt you bought years ago.

If you’re tired of wearing track pants (again!) find a skirt that’ll brighten your day.

Where do you buy interesting and amazing skirts for all seasons? In second hand clothing stores. It’s amazing what other people have cast off. Go have a look – rummage through some skirts. Many won’t suit you, but don’t be discouraged! It’s surprising what can look good with your vibrant green striped top. Find a skirt that’s burnt-orange and try it on. Alternatively, take a navy blue mini-skirt with red polka dots and just savour the effect!

If you’re feeling super motivated and enthusiastic, take your pick of the library’s books on sewing. Find some old material and take time-out to make a funky skirt. Need ideas? Check our recommended Fashion sites.

Skirts are there to be enjoyed – go crazy!

Have a favourite skirt you love to wear? Ever found a winner in a dusty op-shop? Tell us your skirt stories.

Frock stars

I’m loathe to be another librarian who writes about fashion, but a couple of gorgeous new books have got me excited.  Resurrecting a dead or dormant fashion house under the direction of a hot new designer has been a trend in the fashion world over the last couple of years.  Amongst others, Balenciaga, Halston and Biba have all been revived to varying degrees of success.  I’m not sure whether this trend is a result of the huge interest in vintage clothing  that has also been the rage in recent times, or whether it’s a symptom of the whole noughties nostalgia obsession.  The success of a revived line is reliant on the talent of the designer at the helm, and also the motivation behind the revival. In my opinion, the Biba resuscitation seemed an ill planned bandwagon jump, but one of the most successful comebacks has been Alber Elbaz at Lanvin.  He’s a designer who clearly understands and interprets the history of his predecessors.  He has quite a history to draw on (Lanvin was started by Jeanne Lanvin in 1909) as shown in a beautiful new tome on the house.  Lanvin is presented in a nice chronological order, and packed with tons of stunning illustrations, so you can see how Elbaz’s work has been informed by the designs of  Jeanne Lanvin. 

One of the other big successes in the fashion rebirth world is Balenciaga under the guidance of Nicholas Ghesquiere.  Ghesquiere writes the foreword for a new book celebrating the design work of Paul Poiret.  Published to accompany the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute exhibition last year, Poiret is another dazzler.  The essays shed light on a designer who was incredibly influential in his time, but is somewhat overshadowed today by Chanel.  A pioneer of the anti-corset movement, Poiret had an interesting relationship with modernity.  In the early part of last century his designs were viewed as very free and modern, and the theatricality and intricacy of the garments made them popular with avant garde women of the time.  However, his unwillingness to adopt the short skirts and less opulent creations that Chanel popularised meant he ended up looking a little old-fashioned. His fascinating wife/muse/model Denise left him, and Poiret ended up broke, working as a bartender and making his suits out of tea towels.  It looks like his time has come though, and history will be kind to him.