Looking Flash: Clothing in Aotearoa New Zealand
Bronwyn Labrum, Fiona McKergow and Stephanie Gibson
Offering a fresh look at the role of clothes in New Zealand history, Looking Flash examines what we wear and what we have worn – from the shrinking bathing suit to the black singlet – over the past three centuries.
Fourteen historians, museum curators and researchers write about the way in which clothes reveal and identify, embody tradition and memory, are both local and global – showing that, despite a reputation for being wary of ‘looking flash’, New Zealand has not always been a dowdy country. Essays span the clothing of pre-colonial Maori society, marching girls and castaways, and include eighteenth-century heirloom dresses, hand-me-downs, wartime garb and kilts. There are also extraordinary stories about the fate of a Māori cloak and an Otago farmer’s remarkable collection of 1970s high-fashion garments.
Richly illustrated with fashion photographs, advertisements and cartoons, Looking Flash provides an original pathway into our history and culture – and proves that clothing reveals as much as it conceals.
Looking Flash: Clothing in Aotearoa New Zealand is a valuable and welcome addition to the small, but steadily growing, literature on New Zealand dress and fashion history. – Laura Jocic, Textile History