A dedicated follower of high fashion
Last weekend, I fulfilled a long-held ambition and attended WOW in Wellington. I have always wanted to attend WOW but doing so a fortnight before the first meeting of the Eden Hore Central Otago Steering Group that I am chair of was perfect timing.
This group is tasked with the job of finding the best use of the unique asset that the Central Otago District Council purchased some years ago.
This is an exceptional and nationally significant collection of New Zealand 1970s and 80s high fashion, and is arguably New Zealand’s largest and most comprehensive ‘‘holding’’ of fashion of this period.
It has even been referred to as the largest private collection of 1970s to early 1980s haute couture in the southern hemisphere.
But there is a lot more to this collection than the garments.
Indeed, in many ways; the garments are the embodiment of a far greater, far more interesting story, and it is capturing this story and making it accessible to the public that I see as the biggest part of the challenge (or opportunity) ahead of the steering group.
Eden Hore must have been an absolute character; I dearly wish I had had the chance to meet him before his death in 1997.
He was highly regarded as a high-country farmer and stockman, and yet he set about collecting an amazing ensemble of fashion items that would be more in place in Milan than on his farm near Naseby.
Put that story in the time and place that it occurred (rural lower South Island in the 1970s) and a picture comes to mind of a man with a singular vision, a man who was not afraid to do what he pleased.
Eden Hore not only brought the fashion items back to Naseby but he held magnificent parties at which they were modelled; parties that included guest singers such as Howard Morrison and Eddie Low.
Oh, to have been on the guest list for one of those events!
He also displayed the garments, alongside stuffed animals (including a yak of all things) and a large collection of classic Jim Beam bottles at the farm for many years, with visitors from around the world travelling up the gravel road to view the unique treasures within.
Not only that; Hore was among the first to recognise the importance of provenance, or traceability, for wool products so that the link between the garment and the land and sheep it came from remains intact.
Many leading brands worldwide now recognise the importance of this as a marketing tool, and it is reported that it was the desire to follow the path from farm to fashion that was the inspiration for the start of his fashion collecting.
Council’s purchase of the collection was not without controversy, and I have heard the views of several elected members as well as members of the public that the purchase was a mistake; a mistake that can only be ameliorated by getting what we can for the garments on the open market.
That is not a viewpoint I currently agree with but I am in no doubt that further funding (especially significant funding) from the ratepayer toward this collection will be very hard to achieve.
There is great potential to turn this asset into something available, exciting and unique and if done right, the benefits for Central Otago could be significant.
I have had more than one person say to me that not many people would come to Central to see ‘‘a bunch of frocks’’.
I disagree; if the experience of seeing ‘‘the frocks’’ is done right, and the broader story of Eden Hore and the time and place that the collection came from is told well.
It is not an ‘‘apples and apples’’ comparison, but I think it fair to say that WOW and Eden Hore Central Otago are not entirely dissimilar, and that many people who would attend WOW would consider seeing the Eden Hore collection if it were shown in an experiential way.
This year, I was but one of 50,000 people attending WOW.
The market is there, Central owns the product, now all the group has to do is stitch the two together.
Tim Cadogan is the Central Otago district mayor.
A model wears an item of the Eden Hore Fashion Collection.