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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. Intended to promote an art gallery in Nelson, New Zealand, the first show was enjoyed by 200 people. Three years later, the WOW show opened in Wellington with 72 garments and a full house of 2,000. 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. e 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,” or categories. Three worlds—Open, Avant-garde, and Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand)—are included every…

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