Hard times add zing to WOW
20 Aug 2009
World of WearableArt Awards - Wellington
25 September - 4 October 2009
It seems the global pinch is providing a positive creative spin-off for New Zealand’s largest art event - the Montana World of WearableArt Awards (WOW) in Wellington.
Designers, including the largest-ever international contingent, have been inspired to use recycled and interesting materials - from cricket pads to bed springs - in a variety of creative ways to produce garments for the 2009 event.
WOW, to be held this year from 25 September - 4 October, has become world famous for its unique combination of theatre, dance, colour, movement and art.
Described as, "a rebellion against the mundane", WOW has a growing reputation for inspiring and encouraging recycling.
Designers are challenged to create something original that has impact on a 40-metre arena stage and can withstand detailed inspection.
The 2009 panel of judges has selected 165 garments from the UK, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, India, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, the USA, Canada and New Zealand for the event.
Innovation from hard times
Judges said they were thrilled to see so many exceptional entries, and it seems to be a case of "necessity is the mother of invention" with history proving that innovation always springs from hard times.
"Stories of dedication and passion behind every entry are often just as inspiring as the garment itself," WOW founder and director Suzie Moncrieff said.
"For instance, one young designer from India had to forgo transport money - and walk for miles - to save enough to be able to buy materials for his garment."
Entries for the 2009 event include ‘Atomic Cactus Patch’, a three-piece ensemble by the winner of the 2008 WOW Factor Award - Sean Purucker from Toluca Lake, California - who used hundreds of ear plugs to embellish his garments.
The Universal Studios’ costumer, who grew up in Alaska surrounded by nature and beauty, questions man’s harnessing of power with his thought-provoking, frenzied entry.
"Power is beautiful, but testing in the desert might have terrible effects on the lands’ vegetation and its people," Purucker says.
Purucker painstakingly hand-sanded and painted the tiny earplugs, to create a cactus effect.
A big bag of white rubber rings was the catalyst behind Maartja Dijkstra’s surreal garment from the Netherlands ‘Bulged Being’, which also features wires, silver reflective fabric and metal.
The Rotterdam designer, whose 2008 entry ‘Illustre Shoe-Machine’ was the WOW runner-up in, said: "Fashion is more than wearable things, it’s all about making things you want to make. I will try to enter WOW every year from now on."
Wire and charger pins
New Delhi student Ragini Ahuju used 3000 charger pins in his entry, ‘Multi-Plug’ to demonstrate the human obsession with mobile phones and the panic felt when the battery runs out.
Fortitude was needed for Ahuju to complete the garment, as each pin had to be attached through two eyelets - 6000 in total.
And Kim Kui Tang from Hong Kong knitted an avant garde garment, ‘Seamless Octopus’, entirely out of wire using 3D hand-looping techniques.
The fashion design student says the low-density wire was surprisingly easy to knit with, and gave the garment great elasticity and shape.
Drinking straws and tissue
Hundreds of recycled drinking straws were used in the creation of Justine Pizzey’s ancient Egyptian-inspired outfit, ‘Hatshepsut’.
The New Zealand designer was delighted with the versatility of the ordinary straw and its ability to be transformed into an elegant costume, which she says is fit for a great female Pharaoh.
Poly-lurex tissue and medicated cotton went into the creation of, ‘The Walk Of A Statue’, by Vikas Verma from the UAE. The Dubai design professor wanted to celebrate the beauty of a woman’s body by creating a garment that looked like a carved statue. The finished product mysteriously has no raw edges or visible seams inside or out.
Origami and tea bags
Mitsuko Makino from Japan used traditional Japanese origami techniques to express her idea of "blossoms on the human body" in ‘Origami Blossom’.
The Kyoto artist fashioned daphne, chrysanthemums, peonies and magnolias out of recycled paper and non-woven cloth.
Angela Bright drank a lot while creating her garment ‘Let Them Drink Tea’ that's made with used tea bags, coffee filters, recycled dishes and sweaters.
The Port Moody, Canada, resident, who wanted to juxtapose the excess of the French court during the 18th century with today’s garbage, admits that "Loved ones don’t necessarily appreciate it when you leave tea bags and coffee filters to dry for days all over the kitchen."
2009 WOW judges
The 2009 judges line-up includes British Associate Royal Sculptor Max Patte, New Zealand fashion designer Annah Stretton, and Suzie Moncrieff.
Oscar-winning film-maker Richard Taylor, of Wellington’s WETA Workshop, will judge the WETA award for the garment that best crosses the boundaries of film and wearable art.
"My expectations were blown out of the water," said Max Patte, who is currently working in New Zealand at WETA Workshop.
"I was amazed - really, really impressed. The diversity and standard of entries should ensure a knockout show," Patte said.
Background: WOW Awards Show
The World of WearableArt show brings together 165 selected garments in a theatrical extravaganza entwined with every performance style - music, dance, lighting, drama and comedy.
Well known BBC correspondent Michael Peschardt said he was blown away after seeing the 2008 show.
"I’ve seen major cultural and fashion shows around the world and this is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before," Peschardt said
Simon Ungless, director of graduate fashion at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco said: "It’s the most important event I have seen in years. I am always looking for something new, and felt I was witnessing the phoenix rise from the flames of fashion, in the creativity and energy that is WOW."
WOW began in 1987 as a promotion for a rural art gallery when Nelson sculptor Suzie Moncrieff conceived the idea of exhibiting art in a live theatrical show.
The annual show is now held in Wellington, and many costumes from previous shows are on public display at the World of WearableArt museum in Nelson.
WOW: an off-the-wall art extravaganza
World of WearableArt
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