A treasure trove of vintage clothes and jewellery that once belonged to a pioneering world traveller and fashionista has been rescued from a Waikato farm shed.
The stylish time capsule, which goes under the hammer in Auckland next week, tells the remarkable life and loves of the late Stella Veronica Veitch.
Auctioneer Andrew Grigg of Cordy's Auctioneers in Remuera said it's the most remarkable private collection he's seen.
"Looking through the racks, you can't help but think of the Mad Men TV series era with those colours, patterns and fitting," he said.
"The background to Stella Veronica Veitch is as colourful as her name and her wardrobe."
Born into London middle-class comfort in 1927, Veitch rebelled at her austere and strict Catholic boarding school and grew up idolising glamorous World War II-era stars of the silver screen like Rita Hayworth and Greer Garson.
After the convent, Veitch graduated from teachers' college before getting a job in happening post-war London. Her first pay-cheque bought a bright pink overcoat, which began a lifelong desire to turn heads.
She spent the next 15 years working in expatriate British schools abroad, including in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain, while travelling widely across Europe, Asia and Africa.
Her daughter Zoe Anderson says her mother "craved the exotic and unusual" and always travelled with luxury suitcases rammed with latest fashions in daywear, cocktail dresses and leisure outfits.
"She was extremely fashion conscious and a style icon in the expat community which provided many opportunities for party dressing," says Zoe.
Veitch enjoyed telling the story of a luxury aeroplane journey when a well-heeled aristocrat chatted her up while snubbing Hollywood starlet Joan Collins beside her.
After marrying an oil company executive in her late 30s, and having Zoe in 1967, Veitch's family moved to Beirut, Lebanon which was then a jet-setters playground popular with the likes of acting giants Brigitte Bardot and Omar Sharif.
They later lived on a River Thames barge before settling on the south coast of England.
When Veitch died in 2005 aged 78, Zoe - now living in New Zealand - was passed her staggering collection of colourful clothes, hats, scarves, gloves, swimwear, fashion accessories, Victorian linen, and heavy gold jewellery.
After her mother's death, Zoe was reluctant to part with anything, feeling each item was a "representative of each stage of her life", and so she stored it all inside a farm shed near Hamilton.
"Eventually I realised I was keeping all these things as if they were the person. I was just a custodian and in order to live my own life I had to let them go," Zoe said.
The collection will auctioned in lots at Cordy's on Monday.