Thursday, January 26, 2017

At the Beach - Exhibition

Every so often, the New Zealand Fashion Museum will have an exhibition pop up at the Dowse Museum. I've been to a couple of these exhibitions in the past, the latest exhibition is "At The Beach" and last Saturday my friend Jo and went to check it out.
On display in the exhibition was 100 years of New Zealand beachwear, mainly togs (that's what we call swimsuits in my part of the world).
The togs from 1890 that were both woolen, Jo and I were both pretty into the togs on the left - as in we could both see ourselves in a cute sailor dress (we do not want to wear woolen togs). While most people know that in this time people were much more modest and covered themselves up when swimming, its something else to actually see the types of things women wore swimming and think about how impractical it would be by modern standards.

I guess the thing that got to me most about this swimsuit is the woolen tights, I last wore woolen tights in high school as they were part of our school uniform and I remember them being so uncomfortable (and I wear tights most of the year!). The thought of wearing woolen tights to swim makes me want to cringe.

The togs on the left were from the early 1900, again much more of a dress than togs but at least there are no woolen tights involved! 
I also took a photo of what men wore around this time, while still make of wool they aren't too far from what men wear currently to swim (at least here in New Zealand where men generally wear board shorts).
 I have to admit that I don't remember the date on the next pair of togs in the exhibition, but they were still woolen so it must have still been pretty early on.

Can we all take a moment to admire the towel cape - why isn't this still a thing? Why did I not know about towel capes? I feel like this is a thing that needs to make a come back.

I took a close up of the label on this pair of togs as I thought it was rad. A lot of these earlier togs had really cute labels.
 The next piece that caught my eye was this 1940s play suit, its so cute with the contrasting cuffs and trim.
The hat on this mannequin was something pretty special too, why don't they make hats like this anymore? Can you think of a better hat for a day on the beach?
 My favourite part of this play suit was the fact the print was upside down and it was handmade! This fills me with all kinds of joy as its a mistake I've made myself and its a mistake someone made a long time ago but their garment is still beautiful and worthy of being in a museum. Who knows? Perhaps at some point in the distant future some of my less than perfect garments will end up on display somewhere.
Another rather lovely pair of togs, again woolen, but I was rather taken with these the straps were a little tired on this pair - not sure I'd trust them to hold up very well in the ocean anymore. I also have to say I love this swimming cap! I remember seeing people wear these types of swimming caps in old movies when I was young and often wish that's what I could wear to the pool instead of the boring modern swimming cap I had.
If I remember rightly, these togs were all from the 1950s/1960s and I thought that the women's togs in this part of the display were all amazing (not so much the men's togs, they don't change much really do they?).
Jo and I were both pretty smitten with this pair of pinstripe togs, I love the piping detail so much! I never find togs I actually like and this pair makes me feel ALMOST brave enough to try sewing my own togs, just so I can try and create something fabulous.
This was the first bikini and its pretty incredible and yes it is faux fur. The mannequin didn't really do it justice, but it looks amazing in the photo below where it was worn by its original owner. 
I can't help but this this was a bikini for lounging rather than swimming - that top could have resulted in some major wardrobe malfunctions in the waves.
These cotton togs and play suit were all from the 1950's and they were all beautiful, I could totally see myself wearing togs like these (although I'd prefer they were made from stretch fabric, not cotton).
These togs both had shirring around the back to help with fit (I assume) and all kinds of beautiful details like top stitching and piping (to name a few).
This little play suit was just beautiful, I love the fabric and the pattern placement - especially the flowers along the top.
The next group of togs were from the 1960s and were made of Bri-Nylon and I pretty much loved them all.
However, I have to say the blue floral version with the detachable skirt was my favourite.
There were also a couple of "summer scenes" in the exhibition - that featured more than just swimsuits and summer dresses.

I would totally wear both these dresses now and I especially like the one on the right - I love the little matching bolero and the crazy print of the fabric.

There were more 1960s/1970s togs, I really like the ones in the bottom photo too - very cute, also not only do we not have towel capes, we don't have towel bags either! I love the towel bag (I suppose I could easily make both a towel cape and bag if I REALLY wanted too).

This bikini was also on display from the 1970s, if I remember rightly, it was bought from a market so I'm assuming it was handmade. I guess its just for lounging like the fluffy 1950s bikini because swimming in suede just seems like it would end badly.
The next group of togs from the 80s until now were less exciting - although those sparkly speedos were pretty exceptional!

 There was also some information about various New Zealand swimwear companies, some that no longer exist and some that still make swimwear today.

The exhibition finished up with a display of a "traditional" Kiwi summer holiday, complete with caravan.

Just to finish up, here's so selfies Jo and I took, because we always have to take a selfie or two!


Louise said...

I think I would have loved that exhibition; it looks so fascinating! I would happily wear the majority of the swimwear and dresses from before and up to the 1960s, (although maybe not the same fabrics), but the faux fur bikini really isn't my thing. Whoever wore it must have been insanely glamorous, which I'm definitely not! I would so wear the sailor dress from the first photo as every day wear now, though- it's gorgeous. It's actually a lot skimpier for the era than I imagined was worn. The colourful printed fit and flare dresses are also amazing. I love how so much detail was put in to clothes and accessories in the past; it's sad we lost that with most of our mass-produced fashion. It just doesn't compare. We definitely need someone to bring back towel capes, and cute swim caps, too! How awesome are they?! xx

Margaret said...

I'm showing my age but I had a towel cape and one of those smocked sun hats too. Wish I was in Wellington to see this exhibition. The Dowse do exhibitions well.