New Zealand once had its own Vogue!

Who knew?! From the years 1957 to 1968, New Zealand had its very own Vogue magazine, which stands as a reminder of the strength of our fashion industry.

The mag was originally published under English editorship, and as an offshoot of British Vogue. At the beginning, Vogue New Zealand encouraged the use of English materials, and New Zealand garments were usually flown to England to be photographed in characteristically English settings, such as Chiswick.

Regardless of this, the editors at British Vogue must have seen something worthwhile in the New Zealand fashion industry for the magazine to have begun. Consequently, there was a growing emphasis throughout its years of publication on New Zealand designers, photographers and homes.

Over the years, the magazine garnered its own distinctive New Zealand flavour, with spreads such as ‘The Unbeatable All Blacks,’ starring women dressed in black cocktail dresses. Amusing captions such as, ‘Seen here in a London setting, this could also be worn while watching rugby or on the fairway at Middlemore or Titirangi,’ also shows us the efforts made to place international fashion trends in our little corner of the world. With this in mind, the magazine made known where depicted clothing could be purchased in New Zealand.

By 1970, editorship had shifted from England to Australia, where Sheila Johnson was Vogue New Zealand’s new mastermind. Johnson, known as the Silver Duchess for her silver hair, was the then-editor-in-chief of Vogue Australia.

In many respects, the magazine was just like any other Vogue, featuring segments on ‘how not to be a perfume loser,’ ‘Vogue’s choice for the over 30s’ and ‘attractive New Zealanders at home and abroad: how they care for their good looks.’ While the language is comically outdated, it seems exactly what we would expect of a Vogue New Zealand.

Claire Regnault, Te Papa museum curator, voiced exactly what we were thinking. Why haven’t we heard of it? ‘Unfortunately a lot of people have forgotten that we had a Vogue,’ she said, ‘ and it surprises a lot of people to know that.’ It was, after all, nearly 50 years ago.

Regnault went on to stress that our fashion industry here in New Zealand was, even then, a great thing. ‘There still is this myth that the fashion industry is quite new in New Zealand, but in the 1960s it was a massive industry that employed hundreds of people, with garment producers throughout the country.’

Sadly to say, Vogue New Zealand was discontinued when its editors believed the fashion industry here to be too small to warrant continued publications. However, we think its existence in the first place the very opposite of just that.

New Zealand’s fashion industry is stronger than ever, and who knows, maybe another Vogue New Zealand will come along someday.  

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