new zealand fashion museum – age of aquarius
I was born in the 60’s (I dont often admit that) but I was a child of the 70’s. My memories of that time are vivid – it is filled with visions of brown corduroy, hand-painted Indian muslin dresses, smily face tees, and LOTS of denim. My memories of my Mother are of a woman working out what it meant to be a woman in this new time. She discovered a collective in the Coromandel who talked about removing additives from your food and the harm that it was doing, that she completely changed the way we ate as children. There were mung bean growing in our hot water cupboard (as well as the occasional brown wheat loaf proving). We ate wholemeal spaghetti (which was like glue) and salads which seemed to made up almost exclusively of seeds. This at a time when salad meant iceberg, tomatoes and cucumber. She spun her own wool to knit as well as being a dab hand at patchworking. She made her own pattery and nearly but a kiln in our back garden.
My Mother opened a handicraft shop with a friend in a derelict space in the tiny local bus stop. This was in a small provincial town with less than 3000 people at the time and was considered pretty out there. She travelled with her friend to Auckland twice a year to scope out new pottery, punched and stenciled leather goods, incense, muslin clothing, hand-made greeting cards and crocheted sandals made from car-tire tread. They made very little money but they loved their little shop called The Makers. My Mother also made everything we wore – from our dresses and trousers, to briefly even our togs and underwear. An incredibly creative woman – I think the 70’s was an enormous time of change for her. As it was for a whole generation of women. She very much came into her own.
The Age of Aquarius exhibition by the Fashion Museum opened last week and made memories come flooding back for me and many of the other people who packed the opening out to over flowing. With many wearing clothes from the decade of social change (especially for women). Most of the clothes featured were loaned to the NZFM, and I imagine photos will be taken to keep in the archives. The inimitable 70’s designer Annie Bonza was were as were some of her designs as well.
With its vivid prints, over sized collars, smocks and loads of DENIM, it was possibly a decade slightly overlooked by good taste – but one who’s under current was one of revolution and change. The clothes were just a classic expression of this change.
The Age of Aquarius is on now in the Geyser Building 100 Parnell Road from 14 Sept to 13 Oct with a koha entry.
Photographs by Michelle Weir