Looking Terrific - the Story of El Jay

Dianne Boles models Dior in Vulcan Lane 1968
Curated by Doris de Pont and recording fashion’s contribution to culture, Looking Terrific –


Looking Terrific – the Story of El Jay is the first ‘pop up’ exhibition of the New Zealand Fashion Museum.   Curated by Doris de Pont, the exhibition will showcase over 50 vintage garments by New Zealand fashion industry leader Gus Fisher and his label El Jay. 

The venues for Looking Terrific add meaning to the story, with the Auckland exhibition being held at the Gus Fisher Gallery. It will then be hosted in Wellington by Kirkcaldie and Stains, who will welcome the clothes back into their store as loyal stockists of El Jay during its fifty year history.

More about Gus Fisher and El Jay

Gus Fisher’s contribution to the development of New Zealand fashion is unique. While the young Queen Elisabeth was the fashion role model for most New Zealand woman of the 1950s Fisher looked to Paris instead. He travelled there every year to see first-hand the new designs and fabrics and to experience the mood and feel of the fashion trends.

For his own fashion label, El Jay, he interpreted French Couture and created his own version of uncluttered European elegance making it available to women here. This commitment to experiencing the real thing led to not just a keen awareness of the latest trends but also to the establishment of relationships with the Paris couturiers which in turn led to El Jay becoming the New Zealand licensee for Christian Dior, giving it the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell Christian Dior originals and Christian Dior prêt a porter in the New Zealand market.

The quality of the production from the house of El Jay is legendary and Fisher never lost the Dior licence becoming the longest licence holder in the world. El Jay was sold for 50 years in the top department stores and fashion boutiques including his own flagship stores the French Shop in Remuera and the El Jay boutique in the 246 building, the 1960s cutting edge retail development on Queen St in Auckland. 

Written by

New Zealand Fashion Museum

25 May 2010