Monday, February 15, 2016

Fashion Rules OK - Exhibition, de Beer Gallery, Special Collections, University of Otago

On 11 March an exhibition entitled Fashion Rules OK will begin at the de Beer Gallery, Special Collections, University of Otago. It will run through to 3 June 2016.
In Hollywood Costume (2012) Valerie Steele writes: ‘fashion is usually defined as the prevailing style of dress at any given time, with the implication that it is characterised, above all, by change… Fashion is also a system, involving not only the production and consumption of fashionable clothes but also discourses and imagery’. Some of these discourses and imagery are showcased in Fashion Rules OK, revealing both the allure and the work of fashion. 
Drawing on a diverse collection of books, magazines, and objects, Fashion Rules OK also presents some highs and lows of fashion style from the Regency period to the Moderns; some iconic Fashion Greats; and aspects (often forgotten) such as fashion etiquette, fashion marketing, fashion theory, and costume.

Notable items on display include historical works such as Sir Thomas More’s Utopia (1684), Racinet’s Le Costume Historique (1888), The Ladies’ Gazette of Fashion (May 1856), and The Glass of Fashion: Some Social Reflections by a Gentleman with a Duster (1921). 
Contemporary fashion magazines such as Vogue, Dazed & Confused, and Harper’s Bazaar will also feature. And there are (among others) the Fashionistas: Christian Dior, Issey Miyake, and Elsa Schiaparelli. New Zealand is not forgotten. There are sample fashion photographs and fashion house invitations from the Avice Bowbyes Collection; Bowbyes was a lecturer in the Home Science Department at Otago and for 20 years the reporter on French fashion for the Otago Daily Times. And there are samples of indigenous fashion items like the high summer issue of New Zealand Fashion Quarterly (1999) and Black Magazine (2015). In addition, spot Barbie, and the Pantone 2016 Spring colours!

For further information, please contact Dr Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian (, Romilly Smith ( or Dr Elaine Webster (

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