For Dunedin’s iD Fashion Week CTANZ member Jane Malthus has curated an exhibition from the Eden Hore Couture Collection fittingly entitled Showstoppers! The exhibition is on show at Hotel St Clair (24 Esplanade St, St Clair, Dunedin), and features 12 showstopper gowns. Collected by James Eden Hore (1919 – 1997) and kept in glass-fronted wardrobes in a building near Naseby, they are a slice of fashion history yet they continue to inspire designers and creators.
Their designers were well known in the 1960s and 1970s for their flair and expertise. Colin Cole and Kevin Berkahn had established couture businesses in Auckland producing day, evening and wedding dresses. Vinka Lucas, an émigré from Yugoslavia, specialised in creating evening and bridal dresses in elaborate fabrics imported from Europe by her husband.
Rosalie Gwilliam entered Gown of the Year, and Wills (later Benson and Hedges) Award competitions throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with considerable success, and worked as a fulltime designer for some of this time.
Maritza Tschepp won the Supreme Award in the 1977 Benson and Hedges competition, having not long graduated from the fashion design course at Wellington Polytechnic. She made her often ‘ethnic inspired’ designs under the Kasphara label. Pat Hewitt was a designer dressmaker based in Alexandra, commissioned by Eden Hore to make up ‘exclusive’ fabrics he had purchased. These dresses were labelled One Only.
Kevin Berkahn thought New Zealand fashion sufficiently world class to organise a travelling show in 1971 aimed at letting other countries know of the quality fashion design produced here. Called ‘New Zealand’s World of Fashion’ the show gained sponsorship from Pan-Am, and Berkahn toured Australia, USA and England with selected couture and ready-to-wear, including some of these dresses.
To attend Showstoppers, you need to book your place with the Hotel St Clair . In keeping with the nature of couture, it is an exclusive experience, and only 26 people are let in person session. Sessions take place at 3pm each day until Sunday 1 April. Admission is $10. Tel. 03 456 0555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t make a 3pm session, just ask if you can slip in!