18 High Street
The Elle Boutique arrived late in the High Street District. Wendy Ganley had been making and selling garments for about 10 years before her return to the neighbourhood where she had learnt the making and business skills that assured her success.
A love of colour, choosing fabric and making clothes led Wendy to a job apprenticed to Barbara Penberthy in the Babs Radon workroom at 54 High St. “Barbara was a fabulous role model for me – a women with two children, running a family and a business.”
Wendy return to her hometown, Hamilton, in 1963 and opened the first Elle Boutique in a small space with a workroom, above a butcher’s shop at 262 Victoria St. A youthful audience hungry for a taste of swinging London fashion here in New Zealand were her enthusiastic clients. She catered to their desires with mini dresses and flares but also with energetic fashion parades with live music, young models and wine and cheese. Elle designs were also popular with Liz and Neville Finlay who stocked the label in Tart, their Parnell boutique. In 1966 Wendy opened her first Auckland shop at 32 Wellesley St. Her sister Sheryl ran the boutique with Marilyn Sainty, who had been Wendy’s apprentice in Hamilton and was now living in Auckland. In 1973 Elle moved to 18 High Street. The fit out, designed by Marilyn Sainty, had a red front and a glazed hot lolly pink upstairs interior. The downstairs had jade green carpet and cobalt blue walls.