Okay, if you are thinking of coming to visit us here in Wellington, New Zealand, I can now strongly recommend that you time your visit for the end of September/beginning of October, so you’ll be in town to see the World of Wearable Art show. The catch being that you’ll need to decide by February, so we can get you tickets — they sell out fast. Stephen and I went to see it last night, and were totally blown away.
WOW (the official acronym takes a few liberties) happened because the woman who started it saw an ad for a “Wearable Art” exhibition at a museum in Auckland, and was frustrated and disappointed to find that the exhibition was little more than some dyed silk scarves and jackets someone had painted flowers on. She was expecting something quite a bit more grand, more imaginative, more boundary-trashing. So she went home to Nelson and, because that’s the way these stories usually go, did it herself. The first show, 17 years ago, was held in a paddock with a hired marquee. This year, they outgrew Nelson and moved the show to Wellington (which was very very keen to get it, let me tell you). They had to add a couple extra shows because they sold out so quickly.
You can see some of the costume entries from past years here.
And the Dominion Post has pics of this year’s finalists here.
(Go ahead and vote for your favorite, why not ?)
The costumes freely blend textile arts, sculpture, and in some cases engineering and electronics. What the pics of the costumes don’t really get across, though, is the overall impact and extravagance of the show. It’s not just a parade of wacky outfits — the whole thing is blended together with music and dance and lights and choreography. Half the time what the dance troupes were wearing was every bit as artsy and funky as the entrants, and some of the set pieces were just stunning. The theme this year was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch, so you had black-garbed Chiron figures pulling a shrouded golden boat that disgorged strange half-machine people, fluffy white ballet dancers that turned into liquid silver beast-headed demons, a choir in white, an opera-singer in architectural scarlet, and a series of violinists with their faces shrouded in black lace all serenading a black-and-white dinner party that morphed into a Renaissance wedding in red and gold, complete with silver angels descending on wires. The Pacifica section featured a woman erupting from a volcano accompanied by dancers swinging electric red poi, three enormous silk waves, and a truly fantastic Tahitiian (??) dance troupe. Oh yeah, and Elvis — for the Bizarre Bra section. One of the best Elvis impersonators I think I’ve seen yet (young, leather Elvis — not a sequin in sight).
I could go on, but I really can’t do it justice. I strongly suspect that WOW will eventually end up like Cirque du Soleil, with different productions taking place all over the world; but until then, it’s one of those best-kept-secrets things and you’ll have to come here to see it.