A souper find in op shop

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IT was quite a find for staff at Habitat for Humanity Invercargill’s ReStore last year, an original 1960s Andy Warhol-inspired Souper Dress.

The dress, in excellent condition and still sporting its original tag, was dropped off to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore about a year ago wrapped in tissue paper in a brown paper bag along with several other items.

Habitat for Humanity Invercargill general manager Paul Searancke said he thought the dress’s previous owner had known its value.

“One of our ladies picked up pretty quickly that it was something special,” he said.

“It is marvellous donors support charities such as ours.”

Staff at Auckland’s Art + Object auction house had verified the dress was an original Souper Dress, he said.

Souper Dresses, cellulose paper A-line dresses screen-printed with Campbell’s Soup labels, were made and sold by the Campbell’s Soup Company in the late 1960s, inspired by American pop artist Andy Warhol’s 1962 artwork Campbell’s Soup Cans. At the time, customers could purchase a throwaway Souper Dress for the price of two soup labels and US$1.

Mr Searancke said the dresses were now valued at between NZ$2500 and $3500.

Examples of the Souper Dress were on display in such places as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Te Papa in Wellington and now Invercargill’s pop-up ReStore.

Mr Searancke said the ReStore had received several offers to purchase the dress, but they had not met the market price and he wanted the dress to stay in Southland.

“To honour the donor we really need to get the best value for it.”

If they were unable to sell the dress, they were considering donating it to the Bill Richardson Transport World’s wearable arts collection so it would remain in the region, he said.

This was not the first quirky or valuable item ReStore had received in the 23 years it had been operating in Southland, he said. Staff were currently having a watercolour painting verified as an original Len Lye. Len Lye was a New Zealand modernist artist, film-maker, photographer and poet.

The Souper Dress will be on display in the Invercargill ReStore pop-up shop on Tay St until February 17.

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