The joy of dressing up – a look through our photography collection

With the World of Wearable Art Show (WOW) in town, and fantastic costume art in Te Papa’s store windows, we were inspired see what creative costumes we have in our photography collection.

9 people in Pierrots (clowns) outfits

Zak (Joseph Zachariah), Pierrots steal a sly glance at the love letter, W.Y.M.I. Carnival, Petone, 1909, Wellington. Purchased 2013. Te Papa (PS.003367)

Dressing up as Captian Cook on Lyall Bay, Wellington

Zak (Joseph Zachariah), Captain Cook lands at Lyall Bay 1913, Wellington. Purchased 2013. Te Papa (PS.003366)

A man poses in a a costume advertising tea

Berry & Co, Mr A. Mason in a ’poster’ costume, 1910, Wellington. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.046548)

Mr A. Mason wearing a ‘poster’ costume for the Empire Tea Company’s Crescent brand, which was described in advertisements of the time as a tea that ‘refreshes, invigorates and pleases all who use it’.

Poster balls were a popular form of entertainment within New Zealand’s leisure industry and first made headlines in New Zealand at the beginning of the 20th century.

As the name infers, ball-goers were required to wear costumes that represented poster advertisements of well-known goods, or the goods themselves.

A woman wearing a costume advertising chocolates or biscuits.

Berry & Co, Portrait of a woman in a ’poster’ costume,1920, Wellington. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.044996)

A young person in a poster ball costume, possibly advertising chocolates or biscuits.

Woman wears a costume advertising boot polish

Zak (Joseph Zachariah), Woman wearing a poster costume advertising boot polish, 1907-1915, Wellington. Purchased 2013. Te Papa (PS.003414)

A female skater wearing a poster costume advertising Hunky Dory boot polish and Hoxo Pad Rubber Heels for ‘no more sore feet’. The photograph was taken by ZAKS, a rival studio to Berry & Co, and is actually a post-card – and so the three dimensional, roving human poster, becomes a two dimensional advertisement again.

Three children in fancy dress

Maker unknown, Helen Hitchins with her brothers Patrick, Michael at a fancy dress party, 1930. Te Papa (CA000124/001/0091)

In 1949 Helen Hitchins became the first person to open a modern art dealer gallery in New Zealand.

The exhibition ‘The Gallery of Helen Hitchins’ is on now at Te Papa.

Five men in fancy dress

Eric Lee-Johnson, Fancy dress parade, Pukeora Sanatorium, 15 November 1939, Waipukurau. Purchased 1997 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (O.006614)

Dressing up as Cleopatra at the cricket

Robert Walrond, ‘Cleopatra’ at the Domain cricket ground,1914, Auckland. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (A.018196)

 

Want to see more photos? We have over 130,000 in our photography collection.

One Response

  1. Darian Zam

    Lovely post showing some Poster Ball costumes. The woman in the confectionery outfit is advertising Carson’s Chocolates. Underneath her right arm she has a box of their ‘Peacock Brand’ boxed chocolates. Carson’s was a brand made in Glasgow, and imported to New Zealand in the 1920s.

    Reply

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