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El Jay and Christian Dior

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6-12 Kingston Street

Gus Fisher rose to national prominence in the world of high fashion, both as a designer in his own right, and as the holder of the licence to manufacture Dior in New Zealand. He was the creative force behind one of New Zealand most aspirational mid-century fashion labels, El Jay.

Established by Gus’s brother Louis Jacob (the name derived from his initials), Gus began working at El Jay as a 17-year-old in 1938. Taking over the label himself after World War II he had the ambition to focus on high-end, design-led fashion. He wanted to look beyond the English-style conventions that pervaded the local fashion scene and turned his gaze to the couture of Paris. Gus travelled to Paris every year to see the latest fashions, establishing relationships with Parisian couturiers and international fabric merchants.

Import restrictions meant that the only way most international designers could enter New Zealand was by granting locals a licence to manufacture their designs. In 1953 Gus was invited to take up the exclusive licence to produce Christian Dior originals in New Zealand. His dedication to reproducing the authentic style of Dior inspired him to create a scaled-down replica of Christian Dior’s Paris salon in the El Jay premises at Kingston Street.

El Jay created elegant, high-quality fashion for the discerning New Zealand woman for 50 years. Gus never lost the Dior licence, becoming the longest licence holder in the world in 1986. The building remains in the ownership of the family.

Read more at www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/gus-fisher-el-jay

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