The Costume and Textile Collection contains over 9,000 items of costume, textiles and accessories.
There are excellent examples of costume and garments dating from the 18th century through to the late 20th century. The collection has the complete archives of New Zealand’s three most significant post-war textile designers – William Mason, Avis Higgs and Frank Carpay. There are important holdings of 20th century costume design and New Zealand fashion history. This includes the archives of Babs Radon (active 1958-1974) and of Gown of the Year (1959-1964), as well as works by key designers and fashion houses including Trilby Yates, Emma Knuckey, El Jay, Michael Mattar, Kevin Berkahn, Vinka Lucas and Marilyn Sainty. The collection includes the only New Zealand museum holdings of works by fashion designers Bobby Angus and Hall Ludlow, who were important 1940s figures of New Zealand and Australasian fashion respectively.
Embroideries, lace and tapestry are also strengths of the Costume and Textile Collection. A large sampler of Winslow lace dating from the late 19th Century is of international significance. The flag flown at the Red Cross headquarters in Hastings during the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake and a Pai Mārire flag found at Omarunui Pā on the 12th October 1866 are textiles of key importance nationally.
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