There is a wonderful exhibition for those with an interest in glitzy fashion currently showing at Te Papa Museum, Wellington. Entitled “Enriching Fashion”, it showcases all sorts of fashion details, from sequins, beads, and embroidery, from the 1800s up to the present time. These items are arranged in “Eyelights”, a series of large display cases on the 4th floor, looking remarkably like vintage shop front windows. The first display featured “Printed Cotton”, and amongst these modern items was a man’s quilted waistcoat made by Malcolm Harrison in 1993. He had used a bright and colourful screen printed cotton featuring Sergeant Dan of porridge fame. Other items were screen printed cotton dresses, a black tee shirt and bag.
The next selection was “Embroidery”. I often wonder if I had a former life in Victorian times, as I have a real love of vintage embroidery. There were lots of beautiful items in this display, but none so lovely as this cotton embroidered christening gown, stitched in the 1800s. Sadly listed as “maker unknown”, we can appreciate the amount of time and love which the mother, or perhaps grand-mother, spent in making this gown for her new baby.
Things were really jazzed up in the next display case, aptly titled “Shimmer and Shine”. This gold fringed dress would certainly have caught the light on the dance floor. Although looking rather like a flapper dress, it is a New Zealand creation and was made by Kathleen King in 1956.
And how about tottering around the dance floor in these black high heeled shoes set with sparkles? Made in England in 1980, they were no doubt seen as the height of fashion in some posh London shop.
I just couldn’t pass this pink beauty by, which was originally part of a 1920s beaded dress, then converted to a cape. It is made of silk chiffon, and encrusted with sequins, glass beads, and plastic spangles. You would certainly shimmer and shine when you stepped out of the limousine with this draped around your shoulders.
The next selection was “Ruffles and Lace”. Lots of lovely items to admire here, including lace collars and cuffs, and a rather dashing black ruffled evening dress. I loved this pretty red print cotton dress with lace bodice and sleeves. It was made by James Shadbred and Co, of Scotland, in 1900s.
“Feathers and Fur” featured in the last case, including a Mary Quant style shift dress made from tan and white calf skin, I certainly didn’t like the look of that. This pretty wool cape edged in swan feathers was so much nicer, and was made in the late 1800s. I could image feeling very glamorous indeed if I went out in the horse drawn carriage wearing this beautiful cape.
Another glamour item is this ostrich fan, which certainly has a story to tell. It was carried by the wife of New Zealand Premier Richard Seddon, when the couple attended the coronation of King Edward VII in London, 1902.
Our trip to Te Papa also took in the Brian Brake photography exhibition. Read about this on our other blog: www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com