Five questions for WOW's Competition Director

30 August 2018

World of WearableArt (WOW) is back in Wellington next month and is set to delight and surprise fashion fans. We asked WOW Competition Director Heather Palmer what keeps people coming back to the annual garment fiesta and what the strangest outfit submitted has been.

Weta Workshop Section WOW 2015

WOW 2018 runs at the TSB Arena Wellington from 27 September - 14 October. Get your tickets here.

It’s been 30 years since World of WearableArt started. What keeps people coming back to it after three decades?

At the heart of World of WearableArt’s multi-layered universe is the international design competition that challenges artists and designers from all around the world to take art off the wall and onto the human form. It’s the way WOW combines this with a spectacular stage show that makes it so unique. The result is a creative collision between WOW’s creative team and the imagination and talent of the over 100 - this year there are 147 - finalist designers bring to the stage that makes for something incredibly special. No two WOW Awards Shows are ever the same; if you miss one you’ll never get to see it again.


Cosmos by Rinaldy Yunardi 2017

What is the most unusual garment that has been submitted to WOW?

Designers each year inspire me with the variety of garments entered - sculptures, robotics, engineering, paintings and fabric concepts that are bizarre, edgy, forward thinking, risk taking and experimental. It’s hard to choose a single garment but one that springs to mind is Epicentre Divas made by Claire Third from New Zealand. It was entered in the 2012 Bizarre Bra Section and was made from taxidermy Hedgehogs (found as roadkill) wearing diamante tiaras.


Epicentre Divas made by Claire Third

"Designers each year inspire me with the variety of garments entered - sculptures, robotics, engineering, paintings and fabric concepts that are bizarre, edgy, forward thinking, risk taking and experimental."


What are some of the qualities the judges looking for when assessing the submissions?

Judges are first and foremost looking for originality and innovation - something that surprises and delights them; something fresh and different. Garments also need to meet the section theme, and a great title goes a long way. Because the garments are worn in a theatrical performance, the construction needs to be sturdy and hard wearing, and consideration needs to be made to ensure the models are comfortable. The best garments have a striking impact when they hit the stage, but have a similar impact when scrutinised up close in exhibitions held both here at our National WOW Museum in Nelson, and in international touring exhibitions and displays.


Rattle Your Dags by Paula Coulthard and Ursula Dixon

What backgrounds do your designers come from?

Our designers come from all walks of life. Many of our designers come from the worlds of fashion, textile or industrial design, jewellery, architecture, engineering, sculpture and painting. Others are amateurs with a creative idea that they execute brilliantly. They work on their own or will enter as teams who come together to combine their creativity; clothing designer and computer designers, architect with engineer, husband and wife.


Lady of the Wood by David Walker

Describe the perfect WOW experience in Wellington (ie where to eat, where to drink, where to stay)?

Get a great night’s sleep at the InterContinental Wellington or QT Museum Wellington, then begin your day with a coconut milk coffee and green eggs and ham at Two Grey - your first caffeine fix of the day. Explore the city (be sure to check out the WOW Wander to see installations of garments from our historical collection on display between 24 September - 14 October), and stop by David Jones for a new lipstick from M.A.C. For lunch, it’s not a Welly trip without a stop at Wellington institution L'affare for lunch. A visit to the Weta Cave in the afternoon will delight and fascinate, then of course you need to head back to your hotel to get spruced up for WOW at TSB Arena. But your night’s not over just yet; head to Hot Sauce for some late night snacks and crafty cocktails while you debate which garment was your favourite.


Dragon Fish by Susan Holmes