A ded­i­cated fol­lower of high fash­ion

The Southland Times - - COMMENT&OPINION -

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.

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