Governor General's white-tie suit

This suit was owned by 'Kiwi Keith', Sir Keith Jacka Holyoake, while he was New Zealand’s 13th governor general. Sir Keith was also one of the longest-serving prime ministers in New Zealand’s history (1957, 1960–1972).

Sir Keith’s daughter, Diane Comber, remembers the mystique surrounding his formal wear, which was sent to a laundry in Wellington for cleaning. "It was a tiny frontage on Molesworth Street, opposite Parliament, and on entering the door you had to knock on another door where a small hatch was opened which was just the size of the elderly man’s face."

The suit was preserved by Loris Redstone, an important member of the fashion community from the 1950s. She owned several stores which stocked top local and imported labels and she was a member of the Wellington Retailers Association for many years. Loris was also involved in the development of New Zealand’s Olympic and Commonwealth Games uniforms and wrote a regular magazine column called 'My Little Shop'. Clients and friends began donating
 their old clothes to her, and Loris intended 
to eventually open a fashion museum. Failing health prevented this, but her daughter has kept her collections.

Read more about wearing the colour black in the New Zealand Fashion Museum publication Black: The history of black in fashion, society and culture in New Zealand.

Details

Copyright: Image © Loris Redstone Estate
Garment type: Six-piece suit: tailcoat, trousers, waistcoat, 
shirt, bow tie, elastic braces
Features: The tails include the handwritten name inside "Sir Keith Holyoake", the waistcoat is dated "77 H.E." and the trousers contain the hand-written label "H.E. K.J. Holyoake".
Colour: Black, white
Label: Peter Bazala (tails), H & J Green (waistcoat), Akco Tailored Dress Wear (shirt)
Date: 1977