The characterisation of New Zealand women's dress in the 1950s : the Mollie Rodie MacKenzie collection
Judson, Janine Daphne
The identification of a previously unstudied collection of approximately 5000 garments at the Canterbury Museum initiated an exploratory study of a part of the collection. The collection included garments and associated artifacts, mainly twentieth century, and mainly New Zealand made and worn. A study of a representative selection of a smaller time frame, the 1950s, is described. This decade is represented in the collection by about 500 articles of women's dress. From this group approximately 200 garments were selected, comprising mainly day dresses, jackets and suits. The selected artifacts from the collection were initially catalogued. A literature review of three major related areas is described: western women's dress in the 1950s, New Zealand women's dress in the 1950s, and material history and classification systems. In order to extract manageable data from the catalogue set, summary or grouped information was obtained. Four approaches are described in this thesis: independent character analysis, cross tabulation of studied characteristics, cross tabulation with respect to dated garments and block clustering. Style and shape trends in the sample were seen to change over the decade. As a generalisation garments from the beginning of the decade appear to have fitted bodices and waistlines, and flared skirts, with short sleeves. Garments from the later part of the decade tended to have semi-fitted or unfitted bodices and waistlines, with straight skirts The evidence presented in this thesis suggests there was little delay in the assimilation of new fashions and technologies from the Northern Hemisphere, but that there was a reinterpretation of the designs to fit in with the lifestyle of the women in New Zealand in the 1950s. Collection garments are seen to follow the general silhouettes of fashion garments of the time but their construction and design modifications have made the garments easily attainable and affordable by New Zealand women, and more practical to wear when compared with high fashion alternatives.
Advisor: Malthus, Jane
Degree Name: Master of Consumer and Applied Sciences
Degree Discipline: Clothing and Textile Sciences
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis