Guided by a tiger: World of Wearable Art 2016

A large rock bearing a Bengal tiger slides onto the stage and begins to speak.  Sounding remarkably like Jemaine Clements (and it is indeed his voice), he introduces us to the World of Wearable Art awards show of 2016.  The tiger, a creation of Weta Workshop, proves to be a key character throughout this year’s production, coming on stage at various points to sing and make humorous remarks.

WOW 2016 Monday Run Through
WOW 2016 Monday Run Through (all pictures courtesy of Lucire)

The World of WearableArt, known as WOW, is a design competition held in Wellington each year at the TSB Arena.  The competition was started 28 years ago by Dame Suzie Moncrieff in Nelson, and moved to Wellington 11 years ago. Designers from all over the globe create works of wearable art, from all sorts of materials, which are then exhibited each year in the awards show.  The rules of the competition mean that anything that is in any way wearable can find a place on stage, so there is everything from dresses made of biscuit tray packaging, to silk gowns and hand-forged steel tunics.

The show is divided up into different categories, with winners in each, as well as some special awards.  This year began with Bizarre Bras, a great opportunity for creative fun.  The winner this year was Come Fly With Me by Julian Hartzog from Tarpon Springs, USA, pictured below.  One of my favourites in this category was, naturally, one called Edinbra, designed around a Scottish thistle.

This year’s winning bra

The second theme was Aotearoa, where designers are asked to draw their inspiration from New Zealand.  The other sections this year were Avant Garde, Costume and Film (baroque/rococo), an open section with no thematic boundaries, one where designers were inspired by surrealism, cubism and expressionism and one entitled ‘the greatest show on earth’, with costumes inspired by the circus, as it might be in the future.

Queen Angel by Adam McAlavey, London

This year, New Zealand designer Gillian Saunders won the Brancott Estate Supreme award, as well as the David Jones Avant Garde Section.  This was her sixteenth entry into the competition and her ninth award. The garment is made from recycled leather, gems and marker pen ink.

WOW 2016 Monday Run Through
Supernova – the Supreme winner

Outside the theatre, there were a number of exhibits from past WOWs, including the bras below and some pieces by Claire Prebble, who tragically died last year at the age of 30 of melanoma.

Crabs and Venus Fly Traps as garments
Previous winning design by Claire Prebble

You can’t take pictures during the event, so all pictures are courtesy of Lucire.  I strongly suggest you go and have a look at the pictures there for more WOW and complete details of the prizes.  The featured image at the top of the post is just before the show began, looking down on the audience and the musicians on stage.

Verdict: This was the third WOW that I have been to.  Each time I am amazed at the ideas, costumes and stage settings.  I would highly recommend it if you like that sort of thing, so if you happen to be in New Zealand this time next year…..or maybe some of you would like to enter your own designs….



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