The Unmissable Exhibition Inside The Glamorous World Of A Visionary Farmer

By Dan Ahwa
Evening dress, cape and cap by Vinka Lucas, photographed by Derek Henderson at the Poolburn Dam, Central Otago

The fascinating story of a high-country farmer’s glamorous collection of couture is the subject of a new exhibition launching in time for summer.

Presented in partnership with the Central Otago District Council and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and as part of the New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2022, The Dowse Art Museum welcomes Eden Hore: High Fashion/High Country.

Hailing from Naseby, Central Otago, Eden Hore was a successful sheep and cattle farmer who gradually built a collection of 276 pieces during the 1970s and 80s, housing it in a former tractor shed until his death in 1997. The collection was subsequently purchased by the Central Otago District Council in 2013, which recognised its vital role in the cultural and historic fabric of the region.

It's the first time since the late 1980s the collection has been presented in a stand-alone exhibition outside of its South Island home, accompanied by a supporting series of captivating images photographed in 2019 by top fashion photographer Derek Henderson, and styled by New Zealand-raised stylist and newly appointed content director for Vogue India, Megha Kapoor.

“Although it will be filled with some of the most delicious retro dresses I’ve ever seen, this exhibition is about more than fashion it is about celebrating those who dare to be different and bringing a little bit of Eden’s love of glamour into reach for anyone who craves it,” explains Dr Chelsea Nichols, senior curator at The Dowse and co-curator of the exhibition alongside Claire Regnault, senior curator New Zealand Histories and Cultures at Te Papa.

Featuring a line-up of designers who dared to stand out with their flamboyant perspectives, the exhibition celebrates a design history of those who dared to be different, including Kevin Berkahn, Vinka Lucas and Rosalie Gwilliam who specialised in extravagant, special-occasion garments.

The free exhibition is on display at The Dowse from December 4 until March 2022, as part of The Dowse’s 50th Anniversary programme.

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