World of WearableArt 2017 designs wow in Wellington awards show

International designers feature in the 20 top awards in the 2017 World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards in Wellington, New Zealand.

Winners are celebrating tonight as the awards for the 2017 World of WearableArt (WOW) are announced, honouring the designers behind what must be the world's quirkiest design competition. 

International designers from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK and USA, and New Zealand are among the winners in the WOW awards just announced at the glittering opening show in Wellington, New Zealand. 

From a field of 104 finalist garments, Indonesian accessories designer Rinaldy Yunardi will take home the Supreme WOW Award. First time entrant, Yunardi entered two garments both of which won their respective section awards. Jakarta-based Yunardi, who has been designing millinery and accessories for 20 years, takes home a total of NZ$42,000 in prize money for his two entries:

  • Encapsulate - Supreme Award winner / Open section winner
  • Cosmos - Avant-garde section winner

Yunardi says that both his entries were inspired by the universe being a well-ordered whole, encapsulating a system of thought, reasons and emotions. Encapuslate (Supreme Award and Open section winner) is a striking design of a capsule in two halves and made of plastic ropes and LEDs. Cosmos (Avant-garde section winner) is a full-body black and silver garment with elaborate head-dress made of mesh crystals, plastic rope and metal.

The judges were impressed by Yunardi's design aesthetic, for its exceptional strength in simplicity of design and uniqueness of form, WOW founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff said.

The runner-up to the WOW Supreme Award is Grace DuVal of Chicago, USA, who also won the Sustainability Award. Made of bicycle inner tubes and spokes, DuVal says "Refuse refuge is a warrior woman, an alien human building her future from the rubble of the earth's past." DuVal chose tyre tubes because they are both resiliant and mouldable, and there is a great surplus of them. "Every tube was pulled from the trash of bicycle shops around Chicago. These materials that refuse to compose will be all that we have left in the future," she says.

The 2017 show features 104 finalist garments by 122 designers from 14 countries around the world. The finalist garments will be showcased in the WOW Awards Show in Wellington which continues until 8 October 2017. 

WOW is the world’s leading wearable art design competition, with prizes including the Supreme Award (NZD$30,000), an artist residency at Cirque du Soleil (Montreal) and an internship with Weta Workshop (Wellington). WOW also produces on-going exhibitions within New Zealand along with a very successful international touring exhibition programme.

Now in its 29th year, WOW’s combination of an international design competition inside a spectacular stage production is New Zealand’s single largest annual theatrical production and a must-see event for close to 60,000 people every year.

WOW Chief Executive Gisella Carr says “WOW’s international reach is becoming more and more evident, something we’ve worked hard to achieve, while at the same time retaining its unique New Zealand heart.”

Each year, WOW attracts an exciting number and range of designers due to the high awareness of the WOW brand, designers’ own networks, and WOW’s work with tertiary institutions around the globe. Many international designers take part in WOW’s Designer Programme in Wellington, further strengthening WOW’s international network.

The competition encourages and celebrates a huge diversity in designers “from those with professional training and careers, to those who start with a gem of an idea, and have the courage, tenacity and sheer determination to create something extraordinary outside of their own field,” Carr said. 

“On stage, we see the work of international fashion designers, artists from the creative and industrial sectors, alongside students and first-time enthusiasts. This incredible cross-section of entrants is not only reflected in how the garments look, but also in their materials and construction, with every year bringing explorations into new techniques.”

The 104 finalist garments competed for awards in six sections: three recurrent sections – Aotearoa New Zealand, Open and Avant-Garde; and three sections with design briefs specific to 2017 – Red, Illumination Illusion: Float, Fly, Flow, and Weta Workshop Costume & Film: Science Fiction.

The competition was judged in three stages including on design, on stage and in motion. 2017 judges included competition founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff, fashion designer and artist Kerrie Hughes, artist Michel Tuffery, Sir Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop, Valérie Desjardins from Cirque du Soleil and Teneille Ferguson of David Jones. 

The finalists will be seen in performance by the public at the WOW Awards Show from 21 September to 8 October 2017 before they move to the National WOW Museum in Nelson for an exhibition, opening in December 2017.

In all 37 awards went to 36 designers from nine countries. 

2017 WOW Awards Section Winners

  • Aotearoa New Zealand: Human Nature by Saar Snoek (Sellingen, Netherlands) 
  • Open: Encapsulate by Rinaldy Yunardi (Jakarta, Indonesia) 
  • Avant Garde: Cosmos by Rinaldy Yunardi (Jakarta, Indonesia)
  • Red: Cube by Adam MacAlavey (London, UK) 
  • Illumination Illusion: Float, Fly, Flow - The Spirit of Waitomo  by Maria Tsopanaki & Dimitri Mavinis (London, UK)
  • Weta Workshop Costume & Film: Science Fiction - The Organ Farmer by Fifi Colston (Wellington, New Zealand)

About the World of WearableArt (WOW)

The spectacular World of WearableArt (WOW) is one of New Zealand’s cultural success stories. Created by Dame Suzie Moncrieff in 1987, WOW is alive 12 months of the year, with the annual international WearableArt design competition and show in Wellington, year-round exhibitions at the National WOW Museum in Nelson, and a travelling international exhibition.

At the core of WOW is an annual International Design Competition that each year attracts entries from more than 40 countries. The rules of competition mean that anything that is wearable can find a place on stage, as long as it is original, innovative and well-made. This means that WOW attracts some of the most creative people from around the world, working at the cutting edge of fashion, art, design, costume and theatre. WOW is a license to play, explore and experiment with resources and processes, with entrants using unexpected materials to create highly sophisticated garments incorporating everything from artisan craftsmanship to futuristic fabrication technologies. 

Every September and October, WOW showcases the best of the competition with the WOW Awards Show, which takes over New Zealand’s vibrant capital city of Wellington in an explosion of creativity and fun. The three-week season of shows is completely different every year. In 2017, there will be 16 shows between 21 September and 8 October, with around 60,000 attendees.

National WOW Museum and Touring Exhibitions

Open year round, the National WOW Museum in Nelson attracts more than 40,000 annual visitors. The Museum houses two collections representing innovation in design; the WOW Galleries and the Nelson Classic Car Collection. 

Each year, the competition finalists are exhibited at the National WOW Museum following their appearance on stage at the Wellington show, where visitors can see the entries up close, to truly appreciate their construction and detailing.

The Nelson Classic Car Collection is a unique collection of more than 130 veteran, vintage and classic cars, representing more than 100 years of motoring. This eclectic, world-class private collection is one of Australasia’s largest, celebrating the art of motoring, and reflecting changing times, trends, technology and events. 

On the road since 2015, WOW’s International Travelling Exhibition showcases 32 award-winning garments curated to present the best of WOW’s creativity to the world. The international WOW exhibition is the perfect conduit for introducing WOW to an international audience. With support from the New Zealand Government, the current travelling exhibition has impressed almost 700,000 visitors in Australia, and three US museums – Bishop Museum Hawaii, MoPOP in Seattle and Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. 

World of WearableArt (WOW) by numbers

•    2017: 29th WOW Awards Show, Wellington 
•    2017 season: 16 Shows from 21 September to 8 October 2017 (3 weeks)
•    2017: 104 finalist garments by 122 designers (61 internationals) from 13 countries
•    60,000 people attend the show annually
•    Six sections in competition: 3 recurrent sections plus 3 sections with specific design briefs
•    NZ$160,200 prize pool: includes Supreme Award NZ$30,000 (runner-up NZ$6,000; section winners NZ$6,000), 4-week artist residency at Cirque du Soleil (Montreal) and a 4-week internship with Weta Workshop (Wellington)
•    Three stage judging process by a panel led by show creator Dame Suzie Moncrieff
•    350 cast and crew
•    1987: Dame Suzie Moncrieff launches first WOW competition
•    400,000 people have seen the show since 2005 
•    40 countries have been represented by competitors
•    4700-plus garments have appeared on stage
•    National WOW Museum (Nelson): 500 historic exhibits, 40,000 visitors annually; 2017 exhibition opens early December
•    600,000 visitors saw the 2017 touring exhibition (32 award garments) in Hawaii, Seattle & Salem
•    2018: 30th anniversary of World of WearableArt show