Style from the south

The curatorial team admire a Vinka Lucas gown.

Textile tourism has suffered during the first bit of this year, and many of us are back to the armchair for viewing and reading. So CTANZ is pleased to announce a new initiative bringing textiles to you, with an upcoming Zoom talk on the Eden Hore collection by CTANZ members Claire Regnault and Dr Jane Malthus. Claire and Jane have been part of the Eden Hore Central Otago steering group since it was formed in 2017, and their connections with the collection go back even further. We invite members and other interested parties to join Jane and Claire for a conversation about the steering group and its aims, and the past, present and future of the collection. The livestream-only talk is on Wednesday 23 March, 7pm, and details have been mailed to members but if you’re not a member and are interested, contact us (please note that this mailbox is checked every couple of days so you may not get an immediate answer).

Berkahn.jpeg Evening dress by Kevin Berkahn, 1973

Eden Hore’s name is well known in the dress community of Aotearoa New Zealand. Some CTANZ symposium attendees may recall a field trip out Naseby way, early in the century, where the farmer’s designer apparel took pride of place among various other eclectic collections he’d amassed over several decades. In only a few years, the wardrobe had outgrown the house, and in 1975 he converted an old implement shed into a museum to show off the outfits, many of which had graced fashion competitions and catwalks of the era. There’s a lot to make eyes pop about many of these garments from Aotearoa New Zealand’s top designers: Vinka Lucas, Kevin Berkahn, Maritza Tschepp, and many others: volume, colour, detail. The bulk of the collection is high-end, high glamour, outfits that would have had very few opportunities for a post-occasion afterlife.

Eden Hore 14.jpeg Vision of an eccentric angel by Maritza Tschepp, photographed by Derek Henderson at St Bathans, 2019.

When Eden Hore died in 1997, his nephew John Steele took on the stewardship of the collection for another decade or so. Those of us who got to see it in situ were privileged to appreciate in in its original context, but when the Steeles retired from running the farm, they gave the Central Otago District Council first refusal on the collection so it could remain intact and in the Maniototo. Despite concerns about ongoing costs and where and how to display the garments, the council spent $40,000 on the acquisition and has since then worked on the answer to the second part of the question.

Since 2017, this has meant establishing a steering group of fashion experts and community members, a formal partnership with Te Papa and a charitable trust. Alongside this, there’s been work on cataloguing and caring for the collection, and developing ways to share the stories of the garments.

Berkahn Lucas.jpeg Evenign dresses by Kevin Berkahn and Vinka Lucas

More recently, several of the garments got a modern high country fashion shoot; these images, by renowned photographer Derek Henderson make up part of the exhibition of 25 garments that’s been at the Dowse since December. Presented in partnership with Te Papa and the Central Otago District Council, Eden Hore: High Country / High Fashion is likely the first time these clothes have left the South Island for a long time (Eden used to take them on tour for shows and events). There’s a website now too, telling both of the key stories: the collector and the clothes. It’s all just a beginning, a way of bringing the elements of this unique collection out from behind the glass in a former tractor shed – though that too is part of their story – in all their splendour.

The Dowse exhibition, curated by Te Papa senior curator and Eden Hore trustee Claire Regnault, exhibition concept design by Josephine Hughes closes on 20 March.

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