Rachael Allan & Julian McCarthy


White Mannequins in a factory

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Rachael Allan & Julian McCarthy

By Rachael Allan and Julian McCarthy

A film about the last remaining mannequin factory in Aotearoa NZ, and its owner Glen Wilkin-Holland who, with his life partner, the late Fraser Moreton, heroically worked to support the local fashion industry when others succumbed to the rising tide of cheap imports. This iconic business, formerly Purfex Display Models was established in 1938 by Austin Purdy and based in St Benedict’s St, Newton, Auckland.

When a young “serially unemployed” Glen Wilkin-Holland was sent to Purfex by the Labour Department in 1977, Austin Purdy, who still headed the company, was willing to give him a chance. Over the next decade the ambitious Wilkin-Holland tried his hand at most aspects of the factory, an experience that he values as having provided him with “a really good grounding in how to make mannequins from scratch.” Working his way up from the sanding benches to factory manager, Wilkin-Holland had the opportunity to purchase the company when it fell into receivership in 1998. Along with his business and life partner Fraser Moreton, Wilkin-Holland embraced the opportunity to continue Austin Purdy’s legacy of producing high quality locally made display mannequins for the New Zealand market.’ Angela Lassig – New Zealand-based fashion historian

The film also touches on the NZ Fashion Museum and its founder, fashion designer Doris Du Pont, the changing nature of the fashion industry and the factory workers and their individual predilections for, and observations about the mannequins and their production.

As Director of The Mannequin Makers, I had the pleasure of filming in and amongst New Zealand’s last mannequin manufacturer. The working life of the mannequin factory is interwoven with stories of its workers, and the eclectic mix of those drawn to mannequins.

Glen as the central character in the documentary is also recovering from the loss of his life partner. Along with this, the ongoing survival of the business they built together is threatened by rising competition, with far reaching consequences beyond the factory walls.’ Rachael Allan

photo credits Cindy Wilson

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