Watermelon pink sequinned ball gown
In 1970 Linda Ritchie was 20 and had just finished studying at Waikato University. The following year she won a string of pageants that included the Miss New Zealand title. Although confident and self-assured, Linda was somewhat unprepared for the challenges of international pageant life. With the rise of the women’s liberation movement beauty contests had become a symbol of objectification, a hangover of feminine ideals from the 1950s and 60s. Burning bras and abandoning the fashion rules went against the pageant image of swimsuits, gowns and big hair. Under pressure from feminists and a demanding schedule that included trips to America and the United Kingdom for the Miss Universe and Miss World contests, Linda was determined to represent New Zealand and its fashion to the best of her abilities. As Miss New Zealand, Linda was given an entire wardrobe sponsored by the New Zealand Wool Board. With the assistance of Jean Lodge she commissioned or purchased daywear, gowns, swimsuits and accessories by some of New Zealand’s most prominent designers.
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