So about three weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend one of the biggest shows/events/spectaculars in Wellington, not to mention New Zealand - the World of Wearable Arts (WOW). And what an experience. It's a very unique event and really unlike anything I've seen before.
Essentially, this is a fashion show where the models - as the name might suggest - wear "art". It's not only different from your normal runway events, but also worlds apart from couture shows (pun intended). But it's not merely a runway where models wear amazing, crazy costumes. The models also dance in their art to a fantastic array of music. Not only that, but there are also choreographed groups of dancers, plus a light show. You really have to see it for yourself to get a full appreciation. The impression it left on me was that of a visual feast. The show goes for 2 hours, and there isn't a second where you're not captivated by something on the stage: whether it be a dance routine, a light show, or an amazing costume. The costumes are created by designers, and with one third of them now coming from overseas, it is definitely a growing phenomenon. I guess the growing international presence is due to this being such a niche show - there is nothing that really compares anywhere else in the world, so New Zealand is lucky to have it. Every year it sells out and so I was very fortunate to get tickets.
So where did this all originate, anyway? The World of Wearable Art was born in 1987 when Nelson sculptor Suzie Moncrieff had an idea to promote a rural art gallery and thereby created a new genre of performance. An audience of 200 came to a community hall to watch a show that took art off the wall and on to the stage. 25 years later, it plays for over 12 days in Wellington to an audience of more than 50,000 and a crew of more than 400. It is big. There is now also a museum in Nelson.
Anyway, I guess you probably want to see some photos of the costumes, right?
Delight Of Light, Yuru Ma & Mengyue Wu, China
2012 Brancott Estate Supreme WOW Award - 'Winner' & American Express Open Section 'Winner'
Revive, Mengyue Wu & Yuru Ma, China
'Runner Up' to the Supreme WOW Award & Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde Section - 'Winner'
Noor Reverie, Rebecca Maxwell, Wellington
WOW Factor Award - 'Winner'
Dragged Through A Hedge, Gillian Saunders, Nelson
American Express Open Section - 'Commended'
I love this one. Upon first seeing it, I actually thought it was a comment on Wellington wind.
Shell Student Innovation Award - 'Winner'
As you can see, the creativity is just astounding, really. Of course, it's a bit hard to appreciate it from photos, so I thought I'd include a small video as well to give you more of an idea. The footage below is from the 2011 show.
If you're ever in Wellington in September, it's well worth a look.