Fashion leader turned hand to philanthropy [Outlet]02.05.2013 16:46:19
Fashion leader turned hand to philanthropy The clothing company that became Dior's furthest flung outpost began for Gus before World War II. being Lou's initials). The younger Fisher told the Herald in 1988 that he had no formal training in either art or fashion when he took over the design side of the new business. "But I had always loved to sketch clothing and I suppose I must have had some natural flair for it." he said. At that date Fisher was described as smallish, mild-mannered, wearing impeccably tailored suits - far from a flamboyant figure. Pride of place in his downtown white and dove grey Auckland office then was the gold plaque marking 30 years as Dior's agent. Informed rag trade opinion back then suggested that anyone mistaking Fisher's modest demeanour for gullibility would make a grievous error. One told the Herald's Iain Macdonald: "He's an extremely shrewd operator and probably knows more than anyone else in this part of the world about the women's fashion trade". The company came to operate two very upmarket Auckland shops - "yes, the better end of the market" - one in the city and the other in Remuera. Fisher was proud that the House of Dior has "always been amazed by the accuracy and quality of the copies of their designs". Eventually Fisher's ill health came to have some effect on the business. Before Christian Dior died in 1957, Gus Fisher knew Dior quite well "we lunched together and so on". (Fisher twice-yearly attended the big fashion shows in Paris). He characterised Dior as "extremely gentle and considerate - one of nature's gentlemen". And "a man of exquisite charm and great taste". Over the years Gus Fisher and his wife Irene became much involved in philanthropy. In 2009 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to philanthropy. These ranged from a post-doctoral fellowship in 2004 to specialise in the research of neurodegenerative diseases and Parkinson's Disease. He set up the Gus Fisher Gallery in 2000 to encourage debate on contemporary visual arts and culture and encourage research. He also made significant donations to a number of organisations including the Auckland War Memorial Museum.