Wellington gets the Wow! Factor

By | October 3, 2008

October 2008

The World of Wearable Art Show puts New Zealand on the global fashion map

Audiences at Wellington’s 20th World of Wearable Art (WOW) awards show, which runs until October 5, were dazzled by some of the fabulous concoctions on offer.

The show mesmerised crowds with 189 garments from around the world, displayed in an extravaganza of acrobatics, dance, comedy, pyrotechnics and a menagerie of stunning white birds.

The event has turned Wellington into a hub for international design, with contestants from as far afield as the UK, the USA, India, Japan, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands, Israel, Fiji and Canada attracted by the reputation of the event and the $NZ 100,000 prize money on offer.

“The success of WOW has always been dependent on new designers participating and we’ve spent considerable time traveling to The USA, Asia, and Australia to encourage fresh entrants,” explains Suzie Moncrieff, the show’s Founder and Director.  “We’re delighted to see many international entries coming in.”

Contestants are challenged to create something unique, which will have impact on a 40-metre arena stage and can withstand detailed inspection. 35 finalists are selected from approximately 300 global entries every year and the competition is fierce.  The ideas behind the entries are as varied as the countries they come from.

Incredible Creations

The Supreme Montana WOW Award winner went to Nadine Jaggi for her intricate garment Ornitho Maia (bird mother).  The Wellington costume technician had to do unimaginable things to leather: wet mould, emboss, carve, hand-dye and hand-sew it to achieve her highly crafted effect, and describes the idea as, “An ethereal protector of the beautiful feathered creatures of our world.”  Ornitho Maia was also winner of the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section.

WOW judge and corrugated iron artist Jeff Thomson said “It’s exhilarating how people can be so creative when they limit themselves to one material; Nadine has stretched her imagination and created something that enters another dimension”.

In the HP Children’s section ‘Reinterpret the Tutu’ youngsters twirled in costumes made out of lego, pine cones, paintbrushes, barbie dolls, used tea bags, hamburgers and chips, balloons, birds nests and a make-believe stingray.

Men in 1930’s suits served up chickens, geese, parrots and doves on trays, as models pranced through the American Express Open section to a backdrop of blossoming imagery, as life-size birds created by Universal Studios costume maker and first-time WOW entrant, Sean Purucker capered around the stage.

Pink parachuting bras delighted the audience in the opening of the Shell Bizarre Bra section amongst 1950s dancers, air force regalia and Wellington’s Beat Girls.  Bras with propellers, wine barrels, purses, guns, handcuffs, lotto balls, boxing gloves, cockroaches, jack-in-the-boxes and a zimmer frame, ensured the 20th Montana WOW Awards Show ended on an uplifting peak.

Green Design

Recycling was big this year too. The Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde section stunned the crowd with burlesque trapeze artists, nuns on roller blades, girls on ladders with giant cocktail umbrellas, and a circus performer balancing on a tower of chairs.  Decadent garments were made from Tchaikovsky’s sheet music, names of Titanic survivors, 2000 black labels from Berlin, human hair from the UK, and recycled shoes from The Netherlands.

And old drinking straws have never been put to a better use; Anat and Ehud Van-Cleef Shamai from Hofit, Israel collected 3500 straws to create their garment, The Spirit Of Africa, which dances in the dark.  “Using the straw as a basic material in our garment is part of our life philosophy to recycle!,” said the team.

Winner of the 2007 Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde Section, David Walker, has created a cheeky garment, ‘No Laughing Matter’, for the Shell Bizarra Bra section,
made out of Jack-In-The-Boxes.  A carpenter by trade, this Alaskan artist has been creating wearable art for eight years.

Over 100 water bottles and an oxygen tent have gone into the construction of Bev
Juno’s avant-garde garment Clear Trash Beautiful. The artist from Sooke, Canada
was challenged to create something that used light and no colour. Her aim is to “Take art off the wall and throw away the frame; allowing it to interact in our daily lives.”