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NewsNew Zealand • 2011-06-22

Select the country and object's type Kiwi icons reappear with a WOW makeover

22 Jun 2011

World of WearableArt Awards - Wellington

25 August - 10 September 2011

Classic Kiwi icons will get the WOW treatment when the wonderfully quirky World of WearableArt Awards Show steps out in Wellington for the 2011 season.

Now in its 23rd year - and an icon in its own right - the Brancott Estate World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards Show is an internationally-renowned event showcasing works of art designed to be worn on the human form.

The annual event attracts hundreds of entries from around the world, and judges have just completed this year’s first judging round - selecting pieces to feature in the awards show.

Still under wraps for the moment, the ingenious designs will be brought to life in a stunning choreographed performance featuring Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers which will run for 12 nights from 25 August until 10 September.

Kiwi Icons

The challenge to transform Kiwi Icons into wearable art has been a hit with WOW designers this year, according to competition director Heather Palmer.

While there are seven main category sections in the Brancott Estate WOW Awards, Palmer says the entries into the Air New Zealand Kiwi Icons section have particularly impressed the judges.

"Looking at the garments in the Kiwi Icons section, you can especially feel the sense of pride that designers have for New Zealand," Palmer said.

"Kiwis are really proud of their country, and it is great that WOW can provide a way for designers to cleverly and artistically show how they feel."

Icons that have inspired designers include pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas tree), footballs, woollen blankets, and aluminium road signs marking favourite New Zealand destinations, Palmer says.

Wonderful stories

Artists from India, China, Britain, the United States, Korea, Australia and New Zealand have entered for the 2011 awards.

Heather Palmer said their entries were an interesting mix of historic and fresh ideas, with designers displaying a deeper exploration of the materials they were using.

Designers have rattled up creations from some unusual and an ever-inventive materials - ranging from soy milk containers, steamer baskets and knitting needles, to a collection of 271 Barbie dolls.

"Overall, this year’s designs are just superb, and there are some clear stand outs in all categories," Palmer said.

There are also some wonderful stories behind the garments, Palmer says.

"There have been many heart-warming stories of perseverance, innovation and humour when times have perhaps not been that easy - be it finishing a piece while dealing with no water or electricity in their Christchurch home; finding inspiration from the passion of a cobbler working on the streets in India; or getting stuck in their garment when trying it on to check the fit."

Judging panel

New Zealand fashion designer Trelise Cooper, artist Nigel Brown and WOW founder Suzie Moncrieff finished the initial judging round last weekend.

Trelise Cooper says the number of interpretations to the different categories is fascinating, with designers providing many great surprises.

"This year, designers have been challenged to create a representation of Kiwi icons; re-dress the groom; provide an interpretation of surrealism and of food; and give us a glimpse of what can be found under the microscope - they have more than met those challenges," Cooper said.

"The surprises come in the topics chosen, the treatment of raw materials, and who has made the entry - of course designers and artists enter, but so do talented farmers, students, office workers and high school teachers, and husband and wife teams."

There will be two further judging rounds in August to decide the category section winners and the overall Supreme winner.

REAL NZ Festival

The 2011 programme has been extended to coincide with the REAL New Zealand Festival that will be running nationwide in New Zealand during Rugby World Cup.

The awards will be announced on Friday 26 August, 2011.

This year's WOW Awards will be made in the following categories and themes:

Air New Zealand - Kiwi Icons

Gen-i Creative Excellence Section - Under the Microscope

Children’s Section - Food

CentrePort Illumination Illusion - Surrealism

Man Unleashed - Re-Invent or Re-Dress the Groom

Tourism New Zealand - Avant Garde

American Express Open.

Background: World of WearableArt Awards

Described as, "a rebellion against the mundane", the Brancott Estate World of WearableArt Awards Show bends traditional perceptions of both art and fashion.

The dramatic presentation combining theatre, dance, colour, movement and art has gained international acclaim for its originality.

WOW began in 1987 as a promotion for a rural art gallery when Nelson sculptor Suzie Moncrieff conceived the idea of exhibiting art in a live theatrical show. The annual event is now held in Wellington.

The World of WearableArt museum, in Nelson, offers visitors a year-round spectacle with a collection of show-stopping creations from the awards.

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