One of my favourite things about the photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Museum was the opportunity to showcase my tea gown: it’s hardly been worn since I made it.
The tea gown was perfect for representing Mansfield’s mother. Annie Beauchamp was an ambitious Wellington society hostess, and what could better represent the social aspirations and impractical elegance of the late Victorian society woman than a tea gown?
I absolutely love the photographs of Liz in the tea gown. I feel they perfectly capture the slightly repressed, claustrophobic energy that I always imagine Annie having when I read Mansfield’s semi-autobiographical stories. Well before I knew anything of Mansfield’s life I pictured Annie as a woman who, had she lived today, would have had a quite interesting career. Living in the 19th century she took the only acceptable path of marriage and motherhood, and then focused her energy on social climbing and on frenetically trying to create a ‘perfect life’ to try to hold back the constant suspicion that she was actually quite unhappy. In the process I suspect she made her daughter quite unhappy in her own right.
Quite a lot to put on poor Liz’s slim shoulders in terms of emotional baggage to emote!
She did beautifully, and I think she looked beautiful as well!