A tea gown at the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Museum

A photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Museum

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?

A photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Museum

A photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Museum

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.

A photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Museum

Quite a lot to put on poor Liz’s slim shoulders in terms of emotional baggage to emote!

A photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Museum

She did beautifully, and I think she looked beautiful as well!

A photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Museum



  1. It’s a lovely dress and it deserves a nice outing. Liz does a great job of portraying Annie Beauchamp in it.

  2. Lynne says

    Time is so arbitrary. Annie had nowhere to go. And in colonial New Zealand, what’s more. Even quite short periods can radically change what could be expected for women. My mother had to leave school at fourteen in 1929- she went to work in a clothing factory, and learnt how to make really good button-holes. She wanted to be a teacher.

    I have a friend who is five years older than I am ( I am sixty nine), and who has very different memories. She remembers the blitz (the doodlebug version), and thinks that jeans are anathema, working class clothing she was working to escape. She was one of the first British generation to have state assistance for university education. I was a member of the first generation in New Zealand to go to university, and all those other things that went on in the late sixties, early seventies.

    Katherine and Annie show the effects of being either side of a similar watershed.

    Good to see the tea-gown!

  3. Her coat, or whatever it is officially called is gorgeous. I love it (and the dress is also lovely).

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