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Eden Hore mystery model


Pieces of Eden

In a photo in the Eden Hore Central Otago archive stands a mysterious woman.

She models a number of the striking gowns from the collection with unmistakeable yet timeless 1970s-style glamour.

“Who is this striking dark-haired model?” asks Dr Jane Malthus, Fashion Historian and honorary curator at Otago Museum. “We really want to know.”

The Eden Hore Central Otago steering group is moving onto the next chapter of bringing Eden Hore Central Otago to the public with the production of a book. Co-authors Dr Jane Malthus and Ms Claire Regnault (senior curator at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) have been undertaking research into the designers, fabrics, and occasions represented by this collection of stunning and elaborate 1970-80’s ladies’ fashion. The book, published by Te Papa Press, is due for release in 2025 and will feature the history of Eden Hore’s passion for collecting these clothes, and how he showed them off at garden parties and fund-raising events; the award winners amongst the collection, stories of the designers and the fabrics they chose to use to create such elegant gowns, the development of Eden’s ‘tractor shed’ display space and his entrepreneurial efforts to attract New Zealand and overseas tourists to the Naseby area, plus a broad selection of garments from the collection, modelled and photographed at key locations around Central Otago.

“There’s so much information we’ve uncovered about the man and his gowns, but there are fragments still missing,” Dr Malthus says.

“For example, when we started searching through the photo archive, we began to ask ourselves, who were the models? How were they chosen? Where did they come from? Who modelled Eden Hore’s gowns at his famous garden parties at Glenshee Ranch? Does anyone recognise them?

“They could be someone’s mother, grandmother, sister, aunt… we’d be really keen to hear from people so we can identify these women and to be able to name them in the archive photo sections that will help illustrate the book.”

Last year, Dr Malthus was awarded a history grant from the Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage for her work with the unique Central Otago-based gown collection, with the funding put towards the book project. The grant will also help with documenting the collection further and obtaining archive images to include in the publication – hence the model search with a difference.

Some of the grant funding will be used to research topics including Eden’s complex story, the designers and fabrics included in the collection, and the fundraising events he organised.

Dr Malthus, Ms Regnault and fellow steering group member Margarita Robertson, ONZM and the founder and creative director of the New Zealand fashion line NOM*d, were in Central Otago in late February selecting and measuring garments for photographic inclusion into the book.

“I know the garments and have seen them in the past but it’s a pleasure to see them again because the fabrics are so amazing,” Dr Malthus says.

The fashion experts were in agreement that many of the clothes were meant for red carpet occasions of a type not often seen today, and that was just one of the aspects that made them so special. Many of them were specially made for events. They had this to say:

Ms Robertson: “They were made to stand the test of time. Everything was beautifully made, from the technique to the design to the finishing.”

Dr Malthus: “It was a working collection that was shown everywhere from Plunket fundraisers to Benson and Hedges fashion shows. Gowns were squashed into suitcases and had all sorts of models wearing them but are in very good condition considering all that.”

Ms Regnault: “They are a testament to someone who had a passion for clothes. Eden travelled around the world, but he always travelled back to this place.”

The Eden Hore Central Otago fashion collection was purchased by Central Otago District Council in 2013. This nationally significant collection includes over 270 garments of couture fashion amassed by Māniatoto high-country sheep and beef farmer Mr Eden Hore, and profiles leading New Zealand designers and fabric use techniques.

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