Babs Radon

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246 Queen Street

Barbara Herrick’s label Babs Radon became an icon of youthful tailoring in the late 1950s and 1960s.

When Dior’s ‘New Look’ was sweeping through fashion circles, Barbara was training at Druleigh College where the focus was on pattern-making, cutting, construction and finishing - emphasising the structure and careful tailoring required to create this dramatic post-war style. Barbara’s own aesthetic was quite different from the full-skirted, high-heeled New Look silhouette, but the skills she gained stood her in good stead.

Initially she worked for Emma Knuckey, until she and her husband realised Barbara’s vision of creating her own fashion label, Babs Radon. The first workroom was at 54 High Street, within reach of key retail outlets, but by 1963 the business had shifted to larger premises at 22 Chancery Street. From its outset, Babs Radon reflected Barbara’s wish to bring a fresh, young look to women who, much like herself - independent and industrious - were seeking modern fashionable clothing.

Participation and success in various design competitions such as the inaugural New Zealand Gown of the Year contest (1958), the Golden Shears parade (1962) and her win in the New Zealand Wool Awards (1963), where her prize was presented by Queen Elizabeth II, contributed to her public profile and have cemented her place in the firmament of New Zealand design.

For Barbara, fashion represented confidence and self-esteem: “I wanted to make beautiful clothes for women to feel good in.”

Read more at http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/barbara-herrick-babs-radon/

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