The final word...
To our dear Glory Days readers,
As many of you will remember, the Glory Days team underwent some significant changes last year, which meant that we had to delay creating the final issue of the magazine. You can read more about those changes here.
Following the changes, we have been working very hard to pay off some significant debts we accrued as a business over the last few years. While we have always been hugely grateful to those who supported us financially - to our wonderful subscribers, advertisers, stockists and purchasers of the magazine - we were never able, even with that support, to cover the costs of designing, printing and distributing, as well as travelling around New Zealand to promote it.
And we’re not out of the woods yet! Even after all that work, we're still not in the black and we have made the sad and difficult but necessary decision not to print the final issue of Glory Days. While we were very keen to finish our journey with one final printed hurrah, the sad truth is that doing so would incur more debt and financial strain and it just doesn’t make good business sense.
The time, money and resource that go into creating each magazine is significant and at this moment we need to keep what few pennies we have to finish paying off our bills and refunding all of our subscribers and purchasers for the final issue that we were not able to supply.
While we won't be printing a final magazine, we will be moving on to some really exciting projects and we look forward to being able to give you more information about that next phase in the coming months.
In the mean time, what does this mean for you? Read the sections below to find out!
Glory Days live...
While we are shaping the future of our business, we still have several exciting events planned under the Glory Days banner. First up is Mother’s Day at MOTAT on the 14th May. It was a fabulous day out last year and we are very much looking forward to doing it all again in 2017.
We are also very proud to present our first exhibition, Till Death Us Do Part: Fifty Years of Vintage Wedding Style. This exhibition will explore changes in bridal fashions over the 20th century, focusing on and showcasing vintage wedding dresses from the 1930s to the 1970s. The exhibition will be held at one of Auckland’s premiere historic houses, the beautiful Gothic mansion Highwic, in May and June this year.
At the end of the exhibition, the gowns will be auctioned off and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will go to The Aunties – an organisation which provides sustained support for women and children who have experienced domestic violence.
As well as giving the public an opportunity to get up close to sumptuous textiles and a chance to own a piece of fashion history, Till Death Us Do Part will feature a programme of talks, including a presentation from textile historian Angela Lassig, live events such as Miss Havisham’s Day Out and opportunities for guests to share personal memories of their weddings – the good and the bad!
Click here for all the details.
Back issue blow out...
If you need to complete your Glory Days collection we are selling all issues online now for only $5 per copy. Click here to grab your back issues before they are gone!
Living on, online...
We also have all the writing that our wonderful contributors submitted for the WORK issue and we are really looking forward to sharing those stories with everyone that honour the hard-working women and men from the past and celebrate modern day workers who look to the past for inspiration. Please keep up to date on our website, Facebook page and Instagram accounts.
Our final Glory Girl, Miss Dixie Deluxx, photographed by Tony McKay
Thank you once again for your amazing support of Glory Days magazine over the years, it’s been wonderful to promote and support the vintage community in New Zealand. We wish everyone much love and success and we look forward to bringing you new and exciting offerings in the near future.
The team at Glory Days
That satin doll...
Gabrielle Lynam-Smith, roving lifestyle reporter at Glory Days, gets her wiggle on and unleashes her inner bombshell in discussion with House of Satin's Rosie Heagney.
Whether you’re channelling a Land-Girl, Bardot or Monroe, a modern woman needs the right silhouette – the nipped-in waist, the bust, the slight sass that nudges your look into something you could paint on the side of a 1940s aircraft. From waist-cinchers, corselettes, and French knickers to lace control wear, House of Satin's designs span Gatsby-inspired loungewear through to the sexy sixties boudoir.
Product developer, Rose Heagney is passionate about vintage lingerie, and as a seamstress and designer she understands how beautiful well-designed underwear can make women feel gorgeous.
“The cut of vintage lingerie was designed to flatter a figure of any size, and it enhances, rather than hides the female form', she says. “Vintage lingerie features attention to detail, traditional methods and stitching, a flattering fit and quirky adornments.”
Rosie says it’s all these qualities that House of Satin offers to ladies who buy their vintage inspired lingerie.
“We love the way lingerie makes you feel glamourous.”
The original business started in 1948, after World War 2, as a small bridal wear shop in Derby, England. It was one of the first to offer brides the lace and satin gowns they had so dearly wanted during the hard, rationed times of war. Leftover pieces of luxury fabrics from the gowns were used to make brassieres and garter belts and soon the lingerie was outselling the bridal wear. At the centre of Britain’s lace making region and near its finest textile mills, access to quality material was direct and the business flourished, taking on orders from well-known high street brands such as Marks & Spencer, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge.
After many successful decades, Britain’s clothing manufacturing industry began to decline, which saw a number of high street brands taking their manufacturing orders abroad and most of the nearby mills and factories in Derby’s historic textile industry closed down. It was a struggle for the business to stay afloat. But stay afloat it did, evolving with the times.
By 2012 the factory was producing mainly satin nightwear and the way the fabric had to be cut resulted in a lot of waste so the workers got their heads together, devising a plan to utilise these off-cuts of fabric. This involved breathing life back into the vintage lingerie patterns that were still held in storage. They began creating authentic retro bras and suspender belts and due to the massive revival of vintage fashion at the time, this went down a storm and the brand House of Satin was born!
They couldn’t make their vintage ranges fast enough and this popularity came with problems beyond keeping up with demand. The vintage patterns were sized so differently to today’s lingerie and, as the fabrics being used were off-cuts from nightwear, they weren’t as well suited to lingerie as they could have been.
But lesser problems had been overcome before and the problem solvers got busy. They sourced luxury satin and laces and sent their vintage patterns to be resized to modern standards, ranging from a UK size 6 to a UK size 18 and bra sizes from 32A to 42F. They also decided to throw in a few added garments such as thongs and pants to complement the vintage collections. And they do it all using the original machines and sewing and cutting methods that the original company started with all those years ago, offering their customers something special and luxurious.
Their beautifully re-designed website showcases their full range of collections. Whether you’re feeling like a wicked Maîtresse ‘Tea Rose’ or a Rockabilly ‘Cherry Blossom’, their range includes styles for any vintage clothing style, from low cut and backless dresses to high-waisted trousers.
But this is only the beginning of their next chapter, House of Satin has big plans and many more original vintage styles on the way. They want to share their ongoing story with you so have a look at www.houseofsatin.co.uk and keep up with what's happening in their beautiful world.
All togged up...
What is aqua-ballet? Who does it? And why do they do it? Gabrielle Lynam-Smith, answers these questions and more in conversation with the Wet Hot Beauties. Read on...
It’s early on Sunday morning and, to the opening lines of Sia’s ‘Chandelier’, forty women (and one man) step into the water of Auckland’s Parnell Baths and stride forward together. They are one half of the Wet Hot Beauties, an amateur water ballet troupe. The other thirty or so members are to the side of the pool, whooping and applauding as the working half go through their moves. The group is rehearsing one of the numbers from Sea Change – a full-length water ballet that will be performed in the Parnell Baths this February during Auckland Fringe and Auckland Pride Festivals.
Expertly choreographed by Lara Liew, Sea Change is an exploration of ‘the ties that bind’; whether family, love, or relationships. With additional music from Beyoncé, Little Mix, and Santigold, this is a powerful performance. Lara, who is a professional dance teacher and choreographer, calmly but firmly manages the potentially chaotic floating formations of swimmers, diving lines, and co-ordinated splashes that punctuate the music like exclamation marks.
Lara says she draws inspiration from the American movie director and choreographer Busby Berkeley, whose complex geometric patterns using dancers became images associated with the glamour of 1930s Hollywood. The whimsy, campness and sheer spectacle of these is still attracting millions of fans decades later.
Founded by Pip Hall and Judy Dale seven years ago, the Wet Hot Beauties were created after the founders were told they were ‘too old’ to join a synchronised swimming team. Some laughter and a few expletives later, they decided to form their own group. “We did it that afternoon”, says Pip, who, when not aqua-balleting, is a scriptwriter and actor.
Starting with just 11 members, the group is now over 100 strong, with around 70-80 ‘core’ performers attending weekly practices and rehearsals.
In their pre-rehearsal briefing the most noticeable sound is laughter. The sense of joy is palpable, and it’s this pursuit of joy that continues to inspire Pip and Judy. Stage manager (and biggest fan) Justin says it’s Pip and Judy’s spirit that makes the group something out of the ordinary. “It’s just so much fun.” He had sworn never to work as a stage manager again, after a 15 year career managing acts and productions, but “I got drawn in by the fun of it. We ran some workshops at Splore and we had 500 people join! It’s joyous.”
The group is all-inclusive, and all ages. Hamish, currently the only male in the group (though there have been several) says he joined because his flatmate signed him up as a joke. “I didn’t know anything about water ballet,” he says. He stayed because “it’s fun, silly, and great for co-ordination.” He says despite some teasing from his workmates, they have come to watch his performances and you get the impression they might secretly be a little envious of his courage.
For Jacqui, joining the troupe has been the first time since university that she has been in a non-competitive environment with other women. As a business owner in a male-dominated industry, she relishes how much fun she can have in a group. Another performer says that holding a senior position at work means she spends a lot of time telling people what to do – coming to the Wet Hot Beauties means she gets to let go and be told what to do by some else for a change.
For their final stint in the pool Lara encourages them to just have fun, not worrying about making mistakes. The song is Run the World (Girls), and for four minutes, 80 women (and one man) do just that.
The Wet Hot Beauties are performing at the Parnell Baths as part of both the Auckland Fringe Festival and the Auckland Pride Festival from Tuesday 21 to Sunday 26 February at 9.00pm.
Wet Hot Beauties website: www.whbs.co.nz
The models' revenge...
Visitors to Te Papa's current art exhibitions would struggle to miss the works of New Zealand-born photographer Alexis Hunter writes Glory Days arts and lifestyle contributor Georgia Munn. In fact, this "small but perfectly formed" group of Hunter’s works, entitled The Model’s Revenge, is front and centre in the national museum's art space - the first thing your eyes meet - which is very much the intention of Te Papa senior art curator Sarah Farrar.
Farrar says she wanted to place a woman artist in a place of prominence, and that it was important to her to open the new season of Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa with “a strongly feminist statement". It's a fitting spot for this series of photos, which speak about issues facing women with a unique and humourous voice.
Alexis Hunter was born in New Zealand and studied in Auckland, and relocated to London, where her twin sister lived with her artist and filmmaker partner Darcy Lange, in the early 1970s. As an antipodean transplant, Hunter brought with her a more egalitarian, "almost DIY attitude" that differed vastly from British concepts of class and society. She "just got stuck in" without worrying about what others thought of her bold and outspoken work, although Farrar says Hunter was still acutely aware of the class system around her.
Hunter soon realised painting wasn't the best medium to express her political ideas and ambitions, and that photography allowed her the total control of being both the subject and the artist. She worked at the forefront of the feminist art movement and feminist theory, and exhibited her photographs with various collectives of woman artists during the 1970s.
Hunter's New Zealand-ness is seen in The object series, featuring photos of isolated portions of men's bodies, with several focusing on their tattoos. This was a reaction to a lecture Hunter attended in London where a British academic spoke about tattoos in a “patronising and offensive” way - she was struck by the narrow view, as growing up in New Zealand she’d seen the importance and tradition of Maori and Pacific Island tattoos. Other photos in this series emphasise sections of the male body without ever showing their faces, twisting the gaze and objectifying as women have been throughout Western art history.
In the title image of this Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa exhibition, The Model’s Revenge, Hunter photographs her own nude torso pointing a gun straight out of the photograph, reversing the gaze back at viewers while asking them who calls the ‘shots’ with a visual pun. This sense of humour is prevalent in Hunter’s photographs, which use the power of humour to speak about political and social issues.
Hunter worked in commercial animation to support herself as an artist, and other works in The Model’s Revenge are similar to film strips, telling small stories through series of photographs that let viewers apply their own narratives and prejudices. One series of “photographed performance” shows a beautifully manicured woman's hand fondling a fabric-clad object, which is eventually revealed to be a video camera and then turned out towards the viewer in the last frame with yet another visual punchline.
Another filmic series shows the same manicured hand playing with rough, rusty machinery and becoming literally dirtier and dirtier with each subsequent shot. Although these images are not explicity sexual, it's difficult not to infer sexuality from them. It's no wonder that, in conservative London over forty years ago, Hunter struggled to find film processing studios to print her work.
Although these images were shot several decades ago, the messages behind them are still incredibly poignant to modern viewers. The themes of gaze, fear and objectification and the potent feminist viewpoint in Hunter's works are just as applicable now, despite gender equality becoming a more mainstream - and increasingly commodified - issue. Farrar says it's thrilling to see younger generations engaging with these works and learning about Hunter, and at a recent floor talk - the uncompromisingly-named 'Gender, Sexuality, Power' - mothers and daughters attended together and engaged in discussion about how we make sense of these works.
Hunter firmly believed that art was a vehicle for communication to speak to the masses, so her works are befitting of a national institution where many visitors are not a traditional arts audience. Farrar is glad that the museum can inspire its visitors, with this and other exhibitions, to ask “what moment are we part of?” and “is Hunter’s work still relevant to audiences today?” In the artist’s own words: "While there’s inequality and patriarchy in the world there’s a need for women-centred theory and philosophy and direct action."
We love Alexis Hunter and strongly recommend you get to Te Papa and see these wonderful photographs before the exhibition ends on the 26th February. Find out more about her and the show on their website.
Dear readers of Glory Days,
We have some important news to share with you all. But first, we want to offer you an apology.
Over the past year we have been looking at the way Glory Days works and how we can improve our offering to the vintage community and beyond. This has required much thinking and discussion between the directors, which has resulted in a delay in printing our next issue, a reduction in content for our website and much less social media activity. For this we apologise and we hope you can understand and appreciate that business negotiations have had to take a front seat this year.
One of the results of these discussions is that two of our founding directors, Natasha Francois and Claire Gormly, have decided to conclude their involvement with Glory Days. Claire has moved over to the music business, started her own company, Intent Management, and is busy managing the band Bakers Eddy. They're doing great things, both in New Zealand and overseas (make sure you follow them on social media!)
It's been an amazing four years working with Claire and Natasha, and I'm so proud of what we achieved. Starting a magazine at a time when they were dying was a very brave move and we all played a big part in getting Glory Days to where it is today. We wish Claire and Natasha the very best for their adventures ahead and thank them for everything they did to get Glory Days on the move.
To grow in life (and business!), it's important to take time to reflect and we thank you for your patience while we have gone through this process. Myself and Publisher Matt Wiseman will be continuing on with the business and we are pleased to announce that we have some exciting plans ahead.
The events division of Glory Days has been very active over the last year and looks set to become even more so. We have been in discussions with city councils and heritage institutions around the country and have a wonderful summer season of events, dances, markets, fairs, music and mischief planned for everyone.
Keep an eye on our Hot Dates page to keep up with all the details.
GLORY DAYS MAGAZINE
We will be producing one final 'Collectors Edition' of Glory Days magazine in its current format at the end of the summer events season in April 2017. Themed WORK, the very last issue of Glory Days will look to honour hard working women and men from the past and also celebrate modern day workers who look to the past for inspiration. We will also feature High Society pages filled with photos of the vintage community around New Zealand as well as fantastic final features from our wonderful regular columnists so make sure you get your hands on a piece of New Zealand publishing history!
Purchase your pre-sale magazine here and help support the creation of the final edition of Glory Days!
We have communicated the change in publishing schedule to all of our valued subscribers and offered them several options to compensate them for the change in the magazine frequency.
If you are a subscriber and have missed out on this communication please email email@example.com and we will let you know what special offers we planned for you.
For everyone else, we will be offering all back issues, including the Party Issue, for only $5 each. Issue 5 has completely sold out now so make sure you get in quick and complete your Glory Days collection before they disappear for good.
Purchase your $5 back issues HERE!
While we are in the process of creating our last edition of Glory Days we have started to develop a variety of exciting new projects which we can’t wait to share with you… the first of which is our “My Vintage Town” guides.
What began as a cut out and keep insert in the magazine has transitioned into a stand alone booklet full of heritage buildings, high teas, vintage shopping and boutique accommodation. We can’t wait to get around and create these guides for all the regions in New Zealand and over the next few months we will be producing guides for Wanganui, Napier, the Taranaki region, Paeroa and Oamaru!
Visit www.myvintagetown.com for further details.
We have also been fortunate this year to collaborate with Tiffany Curtis Photography on the Classics Museum Calendar for 2017. We decided on a Film Noir theme for the images and got to work with a fantastic team of models, creatives and brands to bring the vision to life.
Purchase your limited edition copy here before they sell out!
Thank you all very much for being part of the Glory Days journey. It's been incredibly rewarding to support and promote the growth of the vintage community in New Zealand and beyond. Admittedly at times it's felt like a runaway train and being an independent publisher isn't without some significant challenges, but the connections and opportunities we have been able to share with so many talented people in New Zealand and around the world has been incredible.
Thank you so much to our dear contributors, our advertisers, our subscribers, stockists and supporters. Without you, there would be no Glory Days and we appreciate everything you have done to support us so far! While we are sad that the printed magazine is coming to an end after our final issue, we look forward to the next phase of the journey and hope that you will continue to support and be part of that with us.
With thanks and best wishes,
On the eve of the New Zealand Fashion Museum's Intellectual Fashion Show being held at the Gus Fisher Gallery from the 8th - 21st October, Creative Director Rose Jackson takes you behind the scenes of the collaborative photoshoot with Hayley Theyers Photography and Glory Days, featuring models Ruby Von Rifle and Velvet DeCollete, which will be included in the exhibition.
The story of this collaboration actually begins long before I was approached by Doris de Pont from the New Zealand Fashion Museum to be part of the Intellectual Fashion Show.
Glory Days decided on a "TEXT" themed issue for December 2015 - perfect for summer holiday reading (in the Southern Hemisphere at least). We originally approached Eleanor Catton to feature as our lead cover story but we were unable to secure an interview with her, so we had to go back to the drawing board.
Like so many times when you own a magazine and have a deadline looming, you have to think very quickly on your feet of plans B, C and D and so we did a speedy brainstorm around who would be an interesting female author to profile. Around this time there were loads of Anais Nin quote-spirations floating around the internet but we wondered if anyone today would know Nin and what her darkly erotic life was really like. While we were researching her, we found some sensational images of Nin shot by renowned New York based photographer from the 1960s, Marlis Schweiger and that sealed the deal. We had to get hold of those images and explore this unique woman's life in a deeper way than just posting some throw away quotes on our Facebook page.
I won't go into further detail about Nin - that's what we created the TEXT issue for - but we were thrilled when, following publication, we had a photographer, Hayley Theyers, approach us and ask to collaborate on some images inspired by Nin's writing. One of the best things to come out of Glory Days is the amount of interesting creative people we have connected with over the years and it's led to some very rewarding collaborations.
Once we found the perfect models, Ruby von Rifle and Velvet DeColette, to give form to Hayley's vision and Nin's writing, we had a shoot in the former psychiatric ward of Carrington Hospital (now Unitec's Auckland campus). The feminine energy and sensuality in the studio that day was palpable and I can still feel the power of the two women - flawless dream-like marble statues come to life and draped in silk - revealing their luminescent skin in the darkness for Hayley's lens.
When Doris asked if I would like to be part of the Intellectual Fashion Show, I was very humbled and the first idea that came into my mind was to use one of the images from the Anais Nin shoot. Creativity doesn't happen in a vacuum and I wanted to share the opportunity to have work featured in the Gus Fisher Gallery with a group of talented women.
The concept for the show was inspired by artist June Black, who held an exhibition also titled the Intellectual Fashion Show in 1959. It included paintings, ceramic wall sculptures and a provocative commentary, presenting the concept of an ‘intellectual fashion house’ framing fashion and "costumes" as a powerful tool for self expression and as armour to protect the self from the rigours of daily life, social hypocrisy and cultural expectations.
In 2016, the NZ Fashion Museum approached various artists and designers to create a response to the series of "costumes" that Black had outlined and explored in her exhibition. I decided to go with the "costume to extend exalted moments".
You will have to visit the show to see how this costume was expressed, but here are a few behind the scenes shots to tempt you along to the Gus Fisher Gallery from the 8th - 21st October.
"There is only one true costume to extend exalted moments in and that is one's skin".
I asked Hayley to share her thoughts on the background and inspiration for the photoshoot...
When I saw that Glory Days had written an article in their magazine about one of my all time favourite writers, Anais Nin, I was inspired to make a series of images based upon her erotica. I started reading Anais Nin when I was still a naive and inexperienced teenager, and her sensual writings played a role in shaping my own sexuality. I‘ve always been a bit of a dreamer, easily lost in erotic reveries".
“Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” - Anais Nin
I approached Rose, who found the models for me. They suited the project perfectly as they both have a timeless beauty about them. Rose is experienced in makeup, hair and styling (she has an exquisite collection of clothing) and was able to bring a 1920/30’s aesthetic to the pictures.
The shoot was a pleasure, both models are comfortable in their skin and they know their bodies well, they know how to pose and took direction easily and naturally from me. This image is part of a series that we are working on together and which will be exhibited in its entirety at a future date.
To view more of Hayley's work visit Hayley Theyers Photography at www.hayleytheyersphotography.nz
The prime of Miss Jean Batten...
On the occasion of what would have been her 107th birthday, Kathryn Van Beek chats to actress Alex Ellis about the experience of portraying one of New Zealand's greatest adventurers - Jean Batten.
“If you have an ambition you should go for it, even if it sounds ridiculous,” says local actress Alex Ellis. “Jean Batten was an Auckland teenager who, in 1930, decided she would sail to England, learn to fly a plane and be the first person ever to fly all the way to New Zealand. Ridiculous."
But Miss Batten did become the first person to fly solo from England to New Zealand... and she held that record for 44 years.
“Jean Batten was one of New Zealand's greatest adventurers,” Alex says. “She was also a mechanic, an engineer, and a brilliant navigator. But there was often an undercurrent of disapproval in articles written about her, and plenty of letters to the editor remonstrating against the folly of letting her fly at all.
“Jean always managed to look glamorous. Even after eight hours in a cramped cockpit she’d land looking as if she was stepping onto a Hollywood set. She always packed a nice dress for the photo opportunity!”
Various beaus helped financed Jean’s planes, and she was sometimes accused of manipulating men to get ahead. “We believe those stories have been twisted through time to make them sound more calculating than they probably were,” says Alex. “One of the perils of being a successful woman is that men will claim you used your charm – but you can't fly 13000 miles, solo, in a single engine plane, on charm. To be exposed to the elements for the distances she flew, in such a basic collection of canvas and wood, is a massive demonstration of will and endurance.”
Alex plays Jean in Miss Jean Batten, which will take to the stage once again at MOTAT in October. and she’s taken to the skies as part of her research. “I went up for half an hour in a Gypsy Moth and the pilot went through a few manoeuvres. To top it off, before we landed he looped the loop!"
Alex has previously played troubled 1940s starlet Veronica Lake in the acclaimed stage show Drowning in Veronica Lake. “The glamour of those eras is undeniable, but I think it is the social barriers these women had to battle against that is the most interesting aspect. Both Jean and Veronica had a wonderfully dry sense of humour too.
“It seems the opportunities are greater today, but the expectations to play it safe, to not rock the boat or challenge the system are just the same as they ever were. But Jean seems to have lived exactly the life she wanted, and that is an inspiration for us all.”
Miss Jean Batten is a joyous celebration of an independent woman who pursued her ambition with unqualified success. It’s a story of success against enormous odds and one that should resonate with everyone.
Watch the drama unfold at MOTAT beneath the wings of the majestic Solent Flying Boat at the Aviation Display Hall on Wednesday, 12 October from 7.30pm.
Buy your tickets to Miss Jean Batten HERE!
Incredibly evocative and iconic, every New Zealander will recognise a White's photograph even if they don't know them by name and you can almost guarantee that every bach, office and holiday home in New Zealand has had one of these hand coloured images proudly hanging on it's walls at some point over the last 80 years.
But, until now, the inspirational story of the people behind the photographs - Leo White (company founder); Clyde Stewart (chief photographer and head of colouring); and the mission-critical ‘colouring girls’ has not been told.
Peter Alsop, who has previously published some of our favourite New Zealand design books, Selling the Dream and Promoting Prosperity (extracts of which featured in issue five of Glory Days), decided to remedy this and has produced Hand-coloured New Zealand: The Photographs of Whites Aviation, due for release in October 2016.
We are fortunate to be able to share some extracts from the upcoming book with you and if, following enjoying the extracts, you'd like to pre-order the book, you can do so HERE!
We also encourage you to watch the delightful short documentary, The Colourist, that Peter and Greg Wood have just released.
Leo Lemuel White was born at Auckland on 4 July 1906 and after acquiring a Brownie box camera at 18, he began to freelance as a photographer, contributing photographs to the New Zealand Herald, Auckland Star, Christchurch Weekly Press, and New Zealand Pictorial News. In 1921 White took some of the first aerial views of Auckland and ten years later he began learning to fly.
In 1935 White and Frank Stewart, a pioneer Auckland cinematographer, started Stewart and White Ltd. The partnership lasted until wartime shortages of photographic materials forced the firm's closure. However, the war also meant that White was able to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a photographer, compiling an extensive archive of photographs of the RNZAF in New Zealand and the Pacific. As a pilot officer and flying officer he compiled an extensive archive of photographs of the RNZAF in New Zealand and the Pacific. (The negatives are held by the RNZAF Museum, Wigram, Christchurch.) .
Transferred to the RNZAF reserve in January 1945, White established Whites Aviation Limited in Auckland and launched a number of periodicals including Whites Aviation (1945–71), New Zealand Flying (1947–51) and the annual Whites Air Directory (1947–88). He also wrote and published Fighters, an account of the RNZAF fighter squadrons in the Solomon Islands.
During the early 1950s Leo White covered New Zealand by air, taking photographs for Whites Pictorial Reference of New Zealand, which was published in 1952 and revised in 1960. Some of New Zealand’s best hand-coloured photos were produced by Whites Aviation over 40 years. The glorious scenic vistas were a sensation, adorning offices and lounges around the land; patriotic statements within New Zealand’s emerging visual arts. Now, despite massive changes in society and photography, the unique scenes have become respected and coveted pieces of photographic art.
HAND COLOURING NEW ZEALAND
By colouring scenic photos by hand, Whites Aviation changed the way New Zealanders viewed their country and in one of his late life interviews, Clyde Stewart recalled that the colouring side of Whites developed over many years. ‘We had established a technique for colouring right from the early days of Stewart and White [c.1939]. The first principle of making coloured pictures was to produce an image that withstood colouring, from the point of view of density and contrast and the degree of absorption of the gelatine [during developing], so the paint would stay on the surface rather than sinking in.'
The photos were painted in oil, thinned with turpentine to allow the paint to be translucent; that wash-like effect. The idea was for the photo to shine through the paint – the very essence of hand-coloured photography. Windsor & Newton paints were used, mixed to form different colours and shades as subject matter required. The colour white was never used; any white in a finished picture was just the underlying photo itself.
For application, paint brushes were only rarely used and, instead, a small amount of cotton wool was wrapped around the end of a thin grapevine to create the ‘brush’. Cotton wool had the advantage of being able to create a
thin film of colour, and in a uniform, streak-free way.
Care in applying the colour was important but errors could be corrected before the diluted paint had dried. Turpentine would allow paint to be removed and it could be painted over, with more success if going darker as opposed to lighter. Razor blades were also sometimes used for paint removal. Large surface areas needed
special attention, with sky in particular requiring a consistent and quick hand to avoid patchiness.
The photos were printed on a special semi-matte, fibre-based paper, striking just the right level of absorption to allow the colour to cure without bleeding. Once signed off by Mr Stewart – that famous ‘Whites’ signature – a cellulose lacquer was applied to both protect and enliven the colour.
WHO WERE THE 'COLOURING GIRLS'?
Grace Jackson was born in Auckland in 1933. At the age of three, she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. ‘I will be an artist!’ she said firmly. Grace went on to study and work in painting miniatures in New Zealand and colouring photographs of traditional English scenes in Britain. "I had no interest in learning typing and shorthand to be a secretary, as suggested by my dad.’
After arriving back from her travels to New Zealand in 1953, Grace heard of the growing reputation of a company called Whites Aviation and its speciality in aerial scenic work. It was a perfect, seamless transition: from colouring scenes of Britain to the chance to colour scenes of New Zealand. ‘As the Whites business was advancing rapidly, my timing was absolutely right.’ She promptly applied and soon met Mr White.
Grace recalls meeting White like it was yesterday: ‘He was the perfect gentleman and extremely polite. I was so determined get the job. I had to try and convince him that I could do it and I remember being very nervous. He asked what I’d done in the past to give him confidence I could produce what he wanted, so I explained I had been painting photographs of beautiful Britain scenes. He was quite happy I had experience.’ Despite showing White her British portfolio – old mills, bridges and thatched roofs – Grace was also asked to paint some of White’s own photos to further prove her worth.
Grace was employed, starting work in the colouring studio on the corner of Darby and Elliot streets, with the studio ideally situated in the building for beautiful natural light. Clyde Stewart was her manager. Grace recalls Mr Stewart in the fondest of terms, joking he was ‘one of the girls’ and an excellent boss. ‘He was a gentle person, always easy to approach, easy to talk to and generous in his ideas. Mrs Stewart would bring in the children and we sort of became part of his family.’ Grace also recalls Mr Stewart and Mr White working very well together in complementary roles.
When Grace commenced at Whites Aviation, she recalled Mr White’s ground shots of famous scenes across the North and South islands. ‘I was luckily able to colour some of the originals – what became reference pieces for other colourists to follow – and they became extremely popular.’
During her time as one of the close knit group who became known as the 'colouring girls', Grace recalls the standard sizes of the ‘Scenic Series’ photos as 20 x 16 or 16 x 12 inches. A 20 x 16-inch image would take about one morning to complete. ‘It was surprising how proficient we got. Once we learnt how to do the colours and how it looked, we could be pretty quick about it.’ When the girls painted large murals, it wouldn’t be uncommon to work as a team, standing, sitting or climbing up on stools. Even then, big pieces could take many days to complete, nine in the case of a large Lake Taupo photograph worked on by four girls in 1963. Each girl had their favourite aspect – for Grace it was colouring mountains – but big pictures carried special enjoyment for their variety and added camaraderie. There was also a special interest in doing something absolutely new.
For cityscapes – which Grace found the hardest to get right given intricate building detail – notes were taken of the colours of roofs and special buildings, ‘otherwise we were free to use our own ideas’. For landscapes, she recalls Mr White describing the right colours, always ensuring ‘clarity in the New Zealand light’. To ensure correct colouring, the photographers frequently brought back samples, ‘such as the time Mr White returned from the South Island high country with a handful of tussock’. For Grace, ‘once we knew the right shades for the South Island and its golden tussocks, and the North Island of green paddocks that sheep graze on, it would then be relatively quick to do.’
Reflecting back, Grace explained her theory on the Whites sensation. ‘It was very important for people to have photographs of New Zealand on their walls in those days. In my view, everybody bought them because there was nothing else like them at the time. It was real; and the country we lived in; and hand coloured. It absolutely took off.’
Grace finished with Whites Aviation in around 1963, ending over a decade’s loyal service and, for her, extremely enjoyable employment. ‘I feel very privileged to have been part of that.’ Grace spent the next 20 years designing clothes: ‘woman’s dresses, suits and many ball gowns. In later life, Grace turned back to oils, reigniting her passion for painting and selling scenes of New Zealand.
More widely, Grace knows first-hand that the hand-colouring legacy lives on. ‘I love to come across the photos 60-odd years later: Wherever she goes in New Zealand the popular Whites Aviation scenes are never far away.
Click on the image below to watch Grace talk about her time at White's in the short documentary The Colourist.
Vanessa Kelly Clothing has been a fixture at vintage markets over the last few years. Today, Vanessa heads into a new adventure as proprietor of her first retail store. We had a chat with her about the excitement and terror that a change in direction can bring!
Hi Vanessa, how long have you been making clothing?
I have been making clothing forever but I have been making it sell for nearly 2 years
What got you interested in vintage style?
I love the clean lines and how flattering the styles are to lots of different body shapes
What did you do before you started your own clothing company?
I worked as a music teacher in a primary school
You have decided to open your own store - are you excited or terrified? Or both!
Totally both! I am excited at the possibilities of where this could take my brand but the unknown around that is terrifying.
What made you decide to move from doing markets to owning a bricks and mortar shop?
I love doing the markets, meeting people and seeing my clothing bring joy to people but it I had a crazy summer season going to markets all over the North Island every weekend. I knew that I (and my family) couldn't get through another summer working that way. I discovered that people want to be able to touch, feel and try on garments before purchasing them so a shop is the perfect way to allow people to do that.
Are your clothes made in NZ? If so is this important to you and why?
My clothes are all made in NZ, mostly by me! I think the love and care that goes into creating each garment shows. We are not churning out thousands of garments that are all the same. I think it is important that people know where their clothing comes from and know that by purchasing my clothing they are supporting a mum who is trying to make a great life for her children (and husband, I suppose!) by creating pretty things that make people feel great.
We love your fabric choices - is it hard to source interesting fabrics?
I discovered quilting cottons and fell in love. The quality of the fabric is amazing, it is easy to wash and wear and best of all the prints are just cool.
Do you think it's necessary to go full on pinup when wearing vintage or vintage style?
Not at all. I say that because I never go full on pin up. I think you can pick and choose how much vintage you want to have in your outfit depending on what feels right for you. While I wear a dress most days some days call for jeans so I add a brooch and some bangles and then I still feel like me.
What can people expect when they come to visit the Vanessa Kelly Clothing store?
People can expect a warm environment with lots of colour on the racks, lots of one of a kind garments and a smiling face from me
Most importantly when is your opening party and is everyone invited?!
Absolutely, everyone is invited from Friday 5th August. I will be open from 10-6pm and the storewide opening specials will be available on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th August from 10-4pm
Other Peoples' Wardrobes - Heather
This week's edition of Other People's Wardrobes features Heather all the way from Christchurch. Not afraid to take her vintage wardrobe right up into the 1980s, Heather always puts together amazingly polished outfits that are accessorised perfectly. Let's sneak into her wardrobe to find out more!
What first sparked your interest in old things?
My mother's old evening dresses and accessories. I loved to play with her jewellery and drawers full of scarves and gloves from the 1960s. Our house was also furnished with inherited antiques and china and we always had nice crystal and china which gave me a taste for old-fashioned quality things.
Tell us about your background in vintage clothing and collecting.
In my teens I started putting together creative outfits for myself, often including retro and vintage items scrounged from my mother and my grandmother - they were both super skilled dressmakers with lots of nice clothes squirrelled away. Then I started op shopping: it was the 1980s and vintage/op shop looks were popular with arty kids.
What is the first thing you remember buying?
When I was about 15 I bought a 1950s party dress in shimmering fluorescent yellow-green! I wore it to a school dance and to a couple of fancy dress type things later: it wasn't exactly elegant but it was authentic!
What do you love most about vintage clothing?
So many things! The quality. I have a passion for beautiful fabrics, flattering design and great tailoring. I have a special love for the very classic, elegant styles like blazers and suits that persist through decades with only slight variations. And of course, dressing in vintage gives me licence to be as glamorous as I want. I am an ordinary woman with an ordinary life, but by dressing up I can bring a little more beauty and excitement into my world. Insofar as clothing can be a form of self expression, I am expressing a belief in beauty and romance and passion and drama and the idea that we can be more fabulous than our circumstances.
Are there specific eras that you concentrate on collecting/wearing and why?
Not really: anything from the 40s to the 80s interests me. My point of difference is probably my love of 1980s fashion which is a bit of a minority fandom... If I had to characterise my favourite style overall, I would like to think it is increasingly classic, tailored, and sophisticated as I get older. But not every day!
What is the best place to search for vintage bargains?
In Christchurch I have found quite a bit of unexpected quality vintage and retro at the $3 warehouse - worth a shuffle through if you are open minded and on a budget, which I am! I love op shops and do the rounds whenever I can in search of hidden treasures. I don't often buy vintage 'retail' and when I do it is still with a budget in mind so some things are out of reach except for special occasions. Which is part of the fun!
Any tips for readers on what to look for when shopping for vintage fashions and accessories?
Keep an open mind and learn to look at clothes objectively: that's how you find your own style. So much of what people think is style is just fashion: buying second-hand and vintage clothes can really encourage you to question your prejudices and received ideas. But if you want to create a particular look, Google authentic images to identify the elements: proportions, fabrics, details, accessories etc. and see how it is put together.
One piece you would save in a fire
My pearls from my ex-husband and my diamond ring from my mother, to remind me that love remains.
First piece you paid for yourself
The first expensive thing I bought was a 1950s ball dress from Madame Butterfly which I laybyed out of my extremely limited housekeeping at the time. I've never worn it except for a photo shoot. I have no regrets.
Your best collection
I have built up a pretty good collection of vintage accessories: jewellery, scarves, hats, gloves and handbags. They are really crucial to getting your look right I think: my outfits are about 80% accessories! I also have an unfeasible number of blazers.
Item with the best provenance story
I don't really know the provenance of anything except my family pieces. What intrigues me is how some beautiful things come to be languishing unloved and wanted in op shops; like a beautiful cream wool crepe, couturier-made 1960s evening dress. I would love to know its story!
My true guilty vintage pleasure is the time I spend on it - I have a job with demanding hours, a child, a house, my running ... I should probably be doing housework of some sort right now! But... no.
Something which doesn't fit but you love it anyway
I have a very beautiful, quite teeny brocade cocktail dress which I have worn a few times but thanks to the running it won't go over my chest at the moment! Not ready to give it up though...
A glass of champagne, darling.