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1970s Flair: Purple Suit Highlights Bold Era In Men's Fashion

Rick Rudd in the hallway of his home in Herne Bay, around 1979. (Photo supplied)

Whanganui Regional Museum is thrilled to showcase a sophisticated example of 1970s men’s fashion and to welcome the original wearer and donor for its public unveiling.

The next Ko te Kākahu o te Marama - Outfit of the Month is a purple three-piece suit owned and worn by noted Whanganui potter, Rick Rudd.

The suit is made of two-toned grape and blue twill wool-polyester weave with a white pinstripe and polyester lining. It was purchased by Rick Rudd in 1973, from the ‘Man’ section of a C&A Department store in Norwich, England. C&A is an international Dutch chain of fashion retail clothing stores.

During the early 1970s, men's fashion was heavily influenced by the counterculture movements of the 1960s, leading to more experimentation with colours, patterns, and styles. The suit’s vivid purple hue reflects a departure from the more conservative tones of previous decades, embodying the era of individuality and expression. The pinstripes, traditionally associated with business attire, add a touch of formality, while the vibrant colour injects a sense of daring to blend formality with fun.

“Fashion for men in the early 1970s was characterised by boldness and flair, reflecting the broader cultural trends of the decade.” said Pou Ārahi/Director, Dr Bronwyn Labrum. “Rick’s purple three-piece pinstripe suit and coordinated shirt from this era epitomizes the distinctive style and flamboyance of the time.”

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Rick Rudd recalls purchasing the suit not long before he immigrated to New Zealand, and it was worn for many occasions such as the captain’s dinner party during the journey from England on the passenger ship Patris; “Man at C&A was a new national chain of stores for modern menswear in the UK. I generally wore fairly conservative clothes, but when I saw this suit, I had to have it!”

Rick Rudd will join Dr Bronwyn Labrum to present and discuss the suit with an informal public talk. Members of the public are invited to hear the presentation in the Museum at 12.15pm on Friday 7th June.

Entry to the event is free. Koha for the Museum is always appreciated. No booking is required, all are welcome. The suit will be on display in the Museum throughout June.

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