Looking Terrific: The story of El Jay

Past exhibition

Looking Terrific is a high-end fashion business story that spans 50 years from 1938 to 1988. It is about much more than a collection of dresses. While the young Queen Elizabeth was the fashion role model for most New Zealand women of the 1950s, Gus Fisher looked to the couture of Paris instead.

Gus Fisher and his El Jay label made high quality, elegant and up-to-the-minute clothes for all occasions, from day dresses to party dresses, and from stylish suits to essential coats. He travelled every year to see first-hand the new designs, and to purchase the latest fabrics for El Jay. The contacts he established and his growing reputation for quality led, in 1953, to an invitation to become the licensee for Christian Dior, giving him the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell Christian Dior originals and Christian Dior prêt a porter in the New Zealand market. The Dior connection is one part of the El Jay story and there are many more stories about ideas, ideals and our cultural development, which the wonderful worn garments in this exhibition symbolise.

"Well dressed women do not need a lot of clothes, but a few suitable for each occasion. Whether outstanding or simple, if they are becoming, she will look terrific," Gus Fisher, 1961.

Curated by Doris de Pont.

Supported by The Gus Fisher Gallery, The University of Auckland, Purfex, Apparel Line, Office Furniture Hire, Point of View Productions, El Framo, Invivo Wines, Geon Print, Oscar Flower Merchants, Smith & Caughey’s.

Watch a video of the Looking Terrific: The story of El Jay exhibition.

Garments in the exhibition

When & where

5 June - 17 July 2010

Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland

3 September - 3 October 2010

Kirkcaldie & Stains, Wellington