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World of WearableArt 2017

Sep 6, 2017  ·  2 min read

The World of WearableArt is a prestigious international design competition and one of New Zealand’s cultural success stories.

Also known as WOW, the design comp attracts hundreds of designers from all over the world, all of who are vying for over $165,000 in prize money. There are also internships up for grabs, with agencies like WETA Workshop and other tops dogs of the design world.

From humble beginnings way back in ’87, World of WearableArt was originally a promotional exhibition for a small, rural (and very switched-on) gallery. The concept involved taking the artworks off the walls, putting them onto bodies and parading them in a theatrical performance. An extremely elaborate idea that just works.

Even if the designs aren’t, the general concept is simple enough – use the human body as a blank canvas and create an artwork that can be worn. If you’re scratching you head and wondering if the piano key necktie is the sort of garb that gets thrown around at WOW, think again. Think again and think bigger, wilder, more absurd and totally out of the square.

Think Pan’s Labyrinth and The Fifth Element thrown into a “farshun” melting pot that’s stirred by Junya Watanabe and seasoned by Iris Van Herpen. That might come close to what is on show at World of WearableArt.

Competition rule: anything that is in any way wearable can find a place on stage, as long as it is original, beautifully designed and well-made.

The amazingly outrageous designs are showcased in a spectacular stage performance, as they say, in “a world where theatre, fashion and art collide”. They could also throw in textiles, industrial design, jewellery, architecture, tapestries and engineering, because pretty much anything goes.

More than worth a look – chuck WOW in the must-see box.

World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards Show takes place September 21 – October 8 2017 and tickets can be purchased on the website.

words by niall roeder


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