Events, Travel

Art Deco 2015: Swinging* times in Sunny Napier

*And by swinging, I mean swing dancing, of course!

Another Napier Art Deco Weekend has come and gone, and another fabulous time was had by all – or at least everyone I talked to!

I almost didn’t go this year, because, while I had a great time last year, it was so ungodly hot  that I felt ill most of the weekend, and my memories of last year are also mixed up with how stressful it was (we took possession of our new house the day I left for Napier, and moved in three days after I got back!).  But the lovely ladies at the clothing swap convinced me to go, and I am so grateful for it!

I think this was the best Art Deco Weekend yet, and it was the best because I didn’t stress about trying to be anywhere, or do anything – I just let the good times happen when, and where they did, and they DID.

In previous years I’ve pushed myself to be at the costume contest to document it, and to photograph lots of attendees to show you the best fashions.  This year I just photographed the people I spent time with, and that’s OK, because the swing dancing crowd really are the best dressed people there anyway!

Lest you think I am biased, photographic proof.  Here I am with the Wellington Full Swing Crowd.  Tres elegante, non?

I think swing dancers look best at events like this, because not only do they know a bit about the period and history, but they also wear vintage style clothes a lot, and know how to move in them, and they plan to be doing things in their outfits: dancing, biking, having gorilla hunts…etc.  So their outfits are practical and suited to the situation.  There is nothing less elegant and becoming than someone who looks uncomfortable in what they are wearing, and all too often that is the case with people in real vintage and (even in 34″ heat) furs.

But I digress!  Back to the fun and pretty photos!

First, a confession: I drove up to Napier  on Thursday (in Hepburn pants and Aloha blouse  – most practical and becoming for a road trip),  and didn’t get a single photo.  And then I got up Friday, ran around and visited 11 op-shops (the spoils of which I shall show you later), and didn’t take a single photo, until we went down to the beach after dinner (in a Vionnet frock, of course) to watch the biplane fly-bys.


So basically, as a documentary blogger I failed for the first two days.  I made up for it Sat and Sun though!

On Sat I got up, put on my Bambi dress, finished hemming the last metre of hem on my Pants that Never End (as you do), and took photos.


It was pretty easy, because I was sitting in the Glory Days Pamper Parlour, surrounded by great Deco architecture and gorgeous ladies getting their hair and makeup done.

ArtDecoTheDreamstress7ArtDecoTheDreamstress3  And  pool games (all pool games should involve men in braces and ladies in glamorous hats):


And officers in lemon-squeezers, swoon!


To go with the officer, I got to help a WWI nurse dress – we had to google to figure out how to do her scarf, and came to the conclusion from original photos that there was a lot more hair showing, and they were a lot messier, than Hollywood likes to show.


After the Pamper Parlour, there were dance lessons to admire:


And favourite outfits to document.

I’m loving this one as a modern take on ’20s.  Much more comfortable and attractive than the terrible ‘spandex and fringe with a chicken feather boa fancy dress look’ that you see so much of.  Also, those shoes?  Be still my heart!


Best dressed couple!  You may recognise that dress as the Decades of Style button dress, which I’ve also made:


And then lunch, and a stroll down to the beach for a pyjama party:


You can read more about Kirsten’s beach pyjamas here.


And then some lazy afternoon sitting around and watching the world go by:


I spent the weekend as a walking advertisement for my sewing and Wearing History patterns (huge amounts of my wardrobe were adapted from them), and Alan (above) spent his weekend as a walking advertisement for Heyday repro vintage clothing.  As he said, “All the fun of the look, and then you throw them in the washing machine!”

Great for dancing in too:


Only slightly worn out from all that looking fabulous, and a late-afternoon dance, we found it was time to glam up for dinner, more dancing, and an evening stroll and car-identification lesson.


This year Napier put up stick-your-face-in-them billboards featuring the various posters they have used to advertise Art Deco Weekend.  Daniil and I decided we were much better dressed than the couple in the billboard, so we stood in front of it 😉


That photo is a double outfit-brag for me.  Not only am I responsible for my look (purchased dress, my capelet), but Daniil’s tux is also borrowed from my [costume] wardrobe, because a lady should always help her friends to look as fabulous as possible!

After our beach promenade, I  took some time to stop and admire the  art:


And then got a last photo with swing friends before heading off to bed an a ridiculously early hour (what can I say, I’m a wuss):


Sunday involved being up bright and early to check out (boo).

After breakfast we checked out the market, and spent more time enjoying the waterfront and posing on the beach:

ArtDecoTheDreamstress23  Because really, who wouldn’t want to spend all day hanging out on a beach looking fabulous?


No Sunday at Art Deco is complete without  a walk through the Gatsby picnic. This time I was lucky enough to run  into international vintage friends-who-I-hadn’t-met-on-person-yet at the Glory Days cucumber cinema tent (yay!):


Sara is involved with the Bay Area Gatsby picnic and does all the US events, so naturally her clothes were amazing.  She won the costume contest too!  Not with these beach pyjamas, but with an original 1934 dress.

Post-picnic I went hunting, got a last photo with friends, and then (wailey, wailey), headed home.

ArtDecoTheDreamstress26  See you next year Napier!



  1. Sue Miller says

    Love the green top and chevron skirt. The top looks like it would easy to make, but I am sure it wasn’t! I had a wonderful time!

    • Thank you! The top is actually golden yellow, and the chevrons are a dress. 🙂 It’s the fabric that makes the top difficult – silk velvet is so wiggly!

  2. So many of these photos are great, but I love that umbrella photo! Lots of great clothing and the dancing looks fun! Also fun that there were biplanes!

    • Thanks! I’m really pleased about the umbrella photo too! And was SO excited that there were biplanes – usually they just have later WWII planes, but brought out the biplanes because of the WWI anniversary.

  3. Fashionista says

    Napier is my favourite place in New Zealand, it is so beautiful. I must get to an Art Deco weekend. Although I risk embarrassing myself standing around with my mouth hanging open all weekend!

    Beautiful pictures, thank you.

  4. What fun!! Thanks for sharing this exciting experience and all your wonderful photos! It really looks like you had an amazing time this year!

  5. I love your capelet! And that last beach photo is beautiful. Makes me want to come visit.

  6. Lyn Swan says

    Beautiful photos! I am envious on so many levels…it was -8′ f (-22 C) here in Maine this morning, So a bit of hot would be lovely. But, mostly, to be in such a lovely place with so many lovely people must have been delicious! Thank you for sharing with us.

    • Thank you for the compliment! I’m SO glad it never gets to -22 in Wellington, but when our winter comes I shall still be most grateful for photos of your sunshine! I’m so lucky to know so many fantastic people who go to this fantastic event!

  7. The photos are so lovely! And sunny! Yay, sunny February! Hopefully I’ll remember to share some sun when you have winter. 🙂
    And so many great clothes! And shoes! And hats! And parasols!

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