New Zealand Fashion in Pictures: Our Image Collection

For New Zealand Fashion Week we’re sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

Over the years, Christchurch City Libraries has built up a collection of local images. Many of these are donated from private collections and capture the places and people of Christchurch, and Canterbury’s history. Some of these we’ve grouped into themed image collections, including one on Costume and Fashion.

Our image collection is mostly made up of early 20th century images but is less comprehensive in terms of more recent history. If you’ve got photos that you think we’d be interested in then please contact us.

In the meantime, here are some oldies but goodies in the fashion stakes –

Suits you

Members of the Christchurch Drainage Board and visitors present at the opening of the septic tank, Bromley sewage farm [4 Sept. 1905] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0084
Members of the Christchurch Drainage Board and visitors present at the opening of the septic tank, Bromley sewage farm [4 Sept. 1905] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0084
A group of Maori women dress reformers [1906] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0096
A group of Maori women dress reformers [1906] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0096
 Mr E. H. Hughes, Mr R. E. Alexander (Director of the College), and Mr Walter Macfarlane [1909] File reference P7030226
Mr E. H. Hughes, Mr R. E. Alexander (Director of the College), and Mr Walter Macfarlane [1909] Selwyn-P7030226

 The diploma winners of 1913. File reference P3051336
The diploma winners of 1913. Selwyn-P3051336

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New Zealand Fashion in pictures: Our Flickr

For New Zealand Fashion Week we’re sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

The Christchurch City Libraries Flickr account is a treasure trove of local images. We have photos of library events and displays, things we see around the city (buildings coming down, and going up), but we also have photos that have been donated for digitising from members of staff and the public, often as part of our annual Photo Hunt competition.

And, my word, there are some great outfits captured in those photos. Here is just a selection  –

Fantastic frocks

Papanui High School Prefects and House Captains
Papanui High School Prefects and House Captains, 1948, Flickr File reference: HW08-IMG-FE066
Mother and Daughter
Mother and Daughter, 1951, Flickr File reference: HW08-IMG-HA081
Wendy & Ina Bradley
Wendy & Ina Bradley, Circa 1967, Flickr File reference: HW08-CE134
Debutante Ball, Akaroa
Debutante Ball, Akaroa, 1969, Flickr File reference: HW08-img-fe113
Three cousins
Three cousins, 1971, Flickr File reference:HW08-img-ce104

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New Zealand Fashion in pictures: Kete Christchurch

It’s New Zealand Fashion Week and here on the Christchurch City Libraries blog we’re going to be sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

First up are photos from Kete Christchurch, our online repository for community stories (it’s a sort of “digital shoebox” that anyone can contribute to). It’s also a great place to find images of local people through the years and sometimes they’ve got their “Sunday Best” on. Many of the best images on Kete Christchurch are from our annual Photo Hunt competition which we’ll be running again later in the year.

Have a look at some of these great ensembles. There are…

Ladies

Two Young Women
Two Young Women, 1910  (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Two Ladies with baskets
Two Ladies with baskets. (Kete Site Admin) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Mavis Howarth, August 1935
Mavis Howarth, August 1935 (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Railway office staff 1958
Railway office staff 1958 (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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Back in black – Dying and dyeing

Doris de PontBlack in fashion with Doris de Pont was a wonderful session, illustrated with a show of images from the book she curated.

Doris is a well-known designer and founder of the New Zealand Fashion Museum.

Journalist Josie McNaught chaired the session.

The big problem with black is it’s an ambiguous colour.

Doris talked about post-Treaty New Zealand, Queen Victoria in mourning, and the “interplay between dying and dyeing”. She showed an image of Victoria and her young family, six of the nine children dressed in black. But Prince Albert is in the photo too, so this puts paid to the idea that Victorian black was all about mourning her lost husband.

The Dyeing story is a fascinating one. When dyes were natural, a good dark black was difficult to achieve – and very expensive. Black was a “colour only affordable for the well-to-do”. It indicated status and wealth. Mauve was the first colour achieved with the new artificial dyes – it was years later that a good black was achieved.

CoverDoris had great historical images to illustrate her point that black was “the colour of loss, also the colour of gain”. This applied to Maori as well as Pakeha. She showed how the traditional funeral practice of wearing garlands of leaves met the practice of wearing black.

Airini Tonore (Donnelly) was used as an example – Doris showed a photo of her in stunning, highly decorative black clothing.

In the 20th century, black was also seen as sensible or daring. It was a popular choice for the flappers of the 1920s, but also for hard working housewives.

After the late 40s and 50s though, it virtually disappeared. Hollywood and Elizabeth II both promoted a more optimistic colour palette. Easy care synthetic fabrics and washing machines helped too. Black retained its role as a colour of formal occasions and uniform. Doris pointed out how it is the colour of both traditional authority and its antithesis:

law, church, politics, business, beatnik, biker, rocker, punk, gang, the school uniform …

Doris looked at the black singlet as “shorthand for Kiwi blokeness” – Fred Dagg – but also the colour of our villains – Bruno Lawrence in Wild Horses, Jake the Muss, fetish wear in Angel Mine.

And the All Blacks? Doris says the New Zealand Natives rugby team who went on tour in 1888-9 were the first to wear black.

In the fashion arena, commentators on NZ designers have touted: “New Zealanders have a darker outlook, less showy offy and more intellectual”, and “edgy gothic sartorial wit”.

The session finished with a 2011 design by Shona Taiwhiao that brings together so many elements of black – loss, status, authority, haute couture, a sense of belonging, the fashionable and the sensible.

Some image of black in fashion from the Christchurch City Libraries collection:

Photo  Photo