Described as “Mardi Gras meets haute couture at a Peter Gabriel concert, directed by Salvador Dalí,” the World of WearableArt (WOW) is a theatrical extravaganza, a phantasmagorical two-hour runway exhibition, held every September in Wellington, New Zealand.
The spectacle was the brainchild of sculptor Suzie Moncrieff, who first hit upon the idea of a one-off art and fashion show in 1987 as a means of promoting her art gallery. She started with the concept of wearable art shows she had read about—to take art off the wall and adorn the human form—and made the entry requirements loose enough to encourage interpretations of “wearable”.
The idea struck a chord, and the shows have been a success for 22 years. Each production is a colour fusion of circus-like aerial acrobatics, graceful dance, eclectic music, and mesmerizing lighting, with impressive sets as the backdrop for a parade of 150 imaginative and intricate garments.
Designers from all over the world submit their fantasy ensembles to WOW, and Moncrieff and a panel of judges have to make their selections from more than 300 entries every year. Encouraged to explore the unthinkable, designers have experimented with materials such as paper clips, tree bark, human hair, plastic bags, and cocktail umbrellas.
WOW provides the platform to showcase these one-of-kind creations, and after the show, the winning garments are exhibited at the WOW Museum, providing visitors an opportunity to get up close to the design innovations throughout the year.
Garment in photo is “Rattle Your Dags” by Paula Coulthard and Ursula Dixon (2007 Montana Supreme Award Winner).