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Brit Mary Wing To takes home World of Wearable Art Supreme Award—our full report


NEWS
Filed by Sabine Ernest/August 26, 2011/11.30


WOW 2011 winner
WOW 2011 runner-up
Top Hylonome by Mary Wing To (United Kingdom), the Supreme Winner at the Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art 2011 show. Above Runner-up, Hide in My Bone Shadow, by Marjolein van der Wal (Netherlands).

Walking into the TSB Arena in Wellington, I had no idea what to expect for the Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art 2011 Awards’ Show. Being an American in New Zealand, I had never been to anything quite like this show before and, aside from hearing that it was spectacular, had no preconceptions. The energy in the crowd was electric. Models wearing costumes from previous years wandered around outside the arena prior to the show, taking pictures with intrigued guests.
   As the crowd filed into the arena, seats filled up quickly and by the time the show was ready to start, there was literally not an empty seat in the house. As the lights dimmed, the first of seven sets started, themed the children’s section, the costumes were playful and fun. Children dressed as rabbits jumped out of a smoking and illuminated rabbit-hole, the dancing accompanied by Julie Andrews singing the Mary Poppins hit song, ‘Spoonful of Sugar’. Dancers wearing elaborate creations resembling food items danced around the stage. Three young girls twirled around, modelling body-sized star shaped biscuits, complete with frosting and colorful sprinkles. Oversized yet delectable looking licorice candy decorated the outfits of a handful more of young children as they waltzed around the stage, the colourful presentation of the outfits making for a veritable feast for they eyes. Pretzella, a costume made entirely of various pretzel shapes as designed by Sean Purucker of the United States won first place, while my personal favourite, All Sorted by Loretta Johnson of Canterbury, won third place.
   The children’s section seamlessly transitioned into the CentrePort Illumination Illusion, the section was marked by dancers with only the outlines or portions of their body visible in the dark arena. The models and dancers moved and twirled about in ways that made me feel as though I was privy to a show that was the offspring of something like an Alice in Wonderland and a Euro-rave. Vibrant costumes captivated the eyes of the audience, a beautiful bright flower costume virtually lighting up the stage while the dancers and music melded perfectly in the background. A brilliant and delicately designed piece resembling a giant iris, aptly titled I ris(e) by Sue Cederman of Motueka won first place for the segment while the eerie yet fascinating Exquisite Corpse by Kate Collier of Wellington received second place.
   As the glow-in-the-dark section slowly faded out, so did the music, changing from groovy to the sound of bubbles and things being grown. Large white balloons sprung out of the floor to complement the scene of Geni Excellence under the Microscope, the larger-than-life props giving us the image that we were sitting above a microscope, watching microorganisms spring to life. Models clad in elaborate costumes navigated their way across the stage fluidly, intersecting with each and crossing the stage to make sure that every side of the arena was able to admire their wearable work of art. A model wearing a black body suit rocked an ensemble that resembled a short wedding dress, the delicate flower decorations standing out in contrast with the black. As she circulated the stage, a pair of vibrantly coloured creatures virtually floated across the stage, their heads obscured by statement headpieces that looked like oversized feelers from a bug, yet somehow only made the costumes more graceful. The winning section piece, an ensemble titled Hide in My Bone Shadow designed by Marjolein van der Wal of the Netherlands, was a creation that resembled something remiscent of skeletal starfish, the model crouching and crawling her way across the stage, embodying the image that she projected. As the creatures manipulated their way across the stage, another model clad in a textured floor length red and pink one-shoulder creation resembling coral, titled Skin by Marjolein Dallinga of Canada, stole the spotlight.
   As the microscope slowly zoomed out, the audience was transported to a stage with models wearing edgy and ingenious creations. Topless male dancers brought out stools on which they slept, stood, sat and on while a video of them doing exactly the same thing was projected on the screen, allowing the audience a multi-angled view of the experience. The curtains then parted to allow a dozen lithe ballerinas clad in nude coloured bodysuits and silken floor-length fabric wrapped around their waist to enter onto the stage. Dancing and twirling around with the men, the models were lifted upon the stools and they continued to sway and blend their movements with the patterns of the Arabian-sounding music. As they stole centre-stage, literally, models floated across the stage, showcasing unique creations. This segment, the American Express Open, had outfits that exceeded even the wildest imagination. The winner, Hermecea by Jan Kerr of Paraparaumu, look like the lovechild of Elizabeth I’s inaguration dress and Lady Gaga’s latest venture in fashion.
   As the lights dimmed, indicating a transition from the section, a row of lights suddenly centred upon the centre aisle in the arena, setting the stage for a handful of brides to glide through the aisles to slowly make their way up the stairs to the stage, where they were joined by more brides. As the brides created a tight circle formation in the centre of the stage, curtains, arising from their dress material were raised, creating a makeshift movie screen where images of weddings from the past were shown. As the movies were shown, grooms wearing all sorts of creations, ranging from something that looked mediæval, to a groom with a baby in hand, to the crowd favourite, a groom wearing nothing but a flower-bouquet and flower. The atmosphere in the audience transformed as the audience began cheering and interacting with the models. Sir Lace a Lot, designed by Julie Brawley of Nelson, won first place while a magnificent peacock inspired design, Preened to Perfection by Katherine Easton of Dannevirke won second.
   Ballet dancers then took the stage, dancing to the voices of male and female opera singers singing songs from works such as La Bohème. This section, Tourism New Zealand Avant-Garde, was home to the supreme winner of WOW, Hylonome, by Mary Wing To of the UK, an extraordinarily designed dress resembling a horse. When Brunei Met Chanel, by Steve Brown of Tauranga, won third place for the section, the outfit invoking the question of how technology and modernity influences fashion.
   The final scene transformed the stage from edgy to casual, the Air New Zealand Kiwi Icon acting as the section dedicated to showcasing what makes New Zealand unique. Images of the beach rolling on the virtual screen while a border collie and then live sheep paraded onto the stage, the well-behaved sheep making their rounds around the stage before being escorted off the stage by the sheep-herders. Costumes representing different facets of Kiwi and Maori culture were showcased with Isabelle by Lorene Ireland of the USA winning first and the delicate and beautiful Pohutuwaka Princess by Andi Regan of Wanaka winning honourable mention. A model wearing a pavlova costume that looked good enough to eat took the stage whilst girls in coconut bikinis wearing giant painted tiki head-pieces added a tropical element to the stage. A picnic group unpacked their meal, complete with an edible version of the national dessert, pavlova, while dancers flooded the stage, pairing off and dancing a jig. John Rowles took the stage to the surprise of the crowd and crooned ‘10 Guitars’ as the audience swayed in tune, all whilst the cake was handed out to random members of the audience. As the show came to a close, the dancers twirled around the colourful stage to much applause of the audience.
   Even after the lights came back on, the atmosphere in the arena remained palpable. While the event was not as special-effects and acrobatic stunts-laden as I have been told previous years were, the overall effect was still awe-inducing. Every costume was spectacular and inspiring but the Supreme Winner and Supreme Runner-Up, Hylonome by Mary Wing To and Hide in My Bone Shadow by Marjolein van der Wal respectively, were well deserving of their titles. The event certainly did not disappoint in any aspect and I already have it in my diary to try to return to New Zealand to see what WOW will bring to the table in 2012.—Sabine Ernest

WOW 2011
WOW 2011
WOW 2011
Above Skin by Marjolein Dallinga (Canada). I Ris(e) by Sue Cederman (Motueka, New Zealand). My Garden City by Judith Clemett (Christchurch). Below Other scenes from the WOW stage for 2011.
WOW 2011
WOW 2011
WOW 2011

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