A Certain Style: Bruce Papas

Past exhibition

A Certain Style is an exhibition of the work of a couturier, Bruce Papas. From his early work in the 1940s as an apprentice embroidery designer, to his last couture gowns in 1990, he sketched, draped and constructed elegant suits and dresses for a fashion conscious local audience. It was his innate creativity and acute fashion sensibility that sets him apart from his contemporaries.

Drawing on private collections and the sketches, embroideries and garments from the Auckland Museum collection this exhibition showcases the mastery of fabric, line, shape and cut that secured Bruce Papas the respect of his contemporaries and the loyalty of his clients.  

Staged in Smith & Caughey’s Lippincott Room,  A Certain Style evoked the refinement of the decade in which Bruce Papas designed for another, now closed, Queen Street department store, Milne & Choyce. The exhibition includes embroidered piecework and sketches from his time at Ninette Gowns, where he completed New Zealand’s first official fashion apprenticeship. Also included are garments from his time leading the design room at Milne & Choyce, from his eponymous boutique in the upmarket 246 complex, and from his later years when he created bespoke garments for private clients.

Over more than four decades he designed for a diverse and changing clientele with the garments created by varying production models: from one-off couture pieces that could take up to 100 hours each to complete, to everyday fashion that was manufactured commercially. Bruce was always abreast of the latest fashion trends adapting, interpreting and innovating for a New Zealand woman and her lifestyle.

This is a glamorous show which affords the opportunity to study and enjoy Bruce Papas’ unusual cutting and construction as well as the fine details of his embellishments.

Curated by Doris de Pont and Jane Groufsky.

Supported by Auckland Museum, Smith & Caughey’s, Heart of the City.

Watch a video of the A Certain Style exhibition at Smith & Caughey's in 2018.

Garments in the exhibition

When & where

19 - 31 March 2018

Smith & Caughey's, Auckland