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Out-of-This-World Costumes

New Zealand-based competition features spectacular designs

Threads #206 - Dec. 2019/Jan. 2020
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WOW—the World of WearableArt—was a small show of wearable art, dance, and theater, when it was launched by Dame Suzie Moncrieff in 1987, in the outskirts of Nelson, New Zealand. Intended to promote an art gallery, the first show was enjoyed by 200 people. Three years later, the WOW show opened at a larger venue in Nelson, Trafalgar Centre, with 72 garments and a full house of 2,000. In 2005, the show moved to Wellington. More than 30 years later, this extravagant fashion show is New Zealand’s largest theatrical production. It runs for three weeks in Wellington, and hosts more than 60,000 attendees. The production showcases avant-garde garments that are more art than clothing.

The stage show is based on an international design competition that challenges participants to create a complete design from head to toe, and to explore a variety of designs, materials, and techniques. Each year, the competition has six design “worlds,”…

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