2023 World of WearableArt Show: BEYOND

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Kia ora everyone! Welcome to a magical world within the beautiful lands of Aotearoa. The World of WearableArt is a world renowned wearable art experience, where an annual design competition culminates in a spectacular show. This year I had the privilege of not only watching it for the first time but being part of the cast and crew whānau (family).

| Theatre, Art, Fashion, Music |

Pre-Show inside TSB Arena – Previous Year’s Garments

The Pre-Show is quite a show itself to keep people entertained while waiting for the main show. This is a show case of previous years garments. You get to see them on stage or walk around and catch a close up picture of the garment, of you on stage or with the models. People carrying the dinner table tickets get close ups of the garments at all times. Hosts bring the models close to them to talk about and present details of each of the Pre-Show garments.

Note: The following pictures were taken by me, except for the performance pictures taken from the official World of WearableArt website, as we’re not allowed to photograph anything during the show. It was the first time I took an event’s pictures under these conditions in low light. It was a great experience watching and getting to get close to the garments for this task.

These are some shots of the stage from our point of view, props were brought in and out and of course, lighting was changed through the different sections of the show but this was the overall stage setup. A DJ was playing for the Pre-Show.

The model above is Georgia and I had the privilege of sharing a dressing room with her and other four models of which I got to dress two (Molly and Zoe) through the second and third weeks of the show.

The model above is Molly, who I had the privilege of dressing through the second and third weeks of the show.

This unique outfit was worn and performed by Jess, I got to share the dressing room with her as well and was lucky enough to have captured this amazing performance of her in this pre-show fan favourite garment, Quantum.

Another fan favourite of the pre-show above is a very unique garment that would inflate and deflate to show the orange peaks. The model would walk onto the stage with the peaks deflated and would reveal the final form to the audience as she positioned herself at different spots on stage.

Again, this is another shot of the view point we had from our sits as well as the show’s program: one of the many merch gifts we received as part of our volunteer ‘thank you’ bundle. Will show you the rest at the end of the post!

2023 Show

WOW’s creations are showcased each night on stage in a theatrical spectacular, alongside dancers, aerialists, captivating music, and moments that will take your breath away. Each year the show has a different theme and categories. This year it was BEYOND and the categories were Mars & Beyond, Aotearoa, Avant-Garde, Open, Gold and Bizarre Bra. Each category had its own visual theme and host artist.

Note: We’re not allowed to take pictures during the show so the following pictures are from the official World of WearableArt website.

Garments I dressed

Aside from the odd garment I helped dress here and there at rehearsals, the garments I dressed throughout the show were worn by two models: Molly and Zoe.

Molly, also depicted wearing one of the pre-show garments, wore:

  • Tears Unseen by Carena West, New Zealand (which won the runner up prize for the ‘Open’ section)
  • Audrina by Jill Benson and Jenna Collop, New Zealand representing the inner beauty and creativity gain strength to fight the confines of self-judgment (Gold section)
  • Because I can by Denise Lamby, Australia made with aluminium can tabs and metallic thread, “juggling the complexities of life” (Bizarre Bra section).

And Zoe, who wore:

  • Sugar tits by Deborah Bassett, New Zealand depicting a playful display of New Zealand iconic lollies (Bizarre Bra section).
  • One of three Messages by Jo Marie Odgers, New Zealand “Listen to the messages our birds bring us as they encourage us to connect more to our environment” (Aotearoa section). The three messages represent the Tūī, Kereru, Pīwakawaka birds, native to New Zealand.

2023 Winner Garments

At the heart of the show is the World of WearableArt Competition. The competition draws designers from across the globe, working in radical and innovative ways in the mediums of fashion, art, design and costume.

Note: We’re not allowed to take pictures during the show so the following pictures are from the official World of WearableArt website.

Supreme WOW Award

Although I didn’t dress this garment throughout the show. I got to dress the ultimate winner, Earthling, one time at rehearsals. My first time dressing anything for that matter! I don’t think this happened purposefully but It was quite interesting to get to dress this garment first because I’m Mexican. Although it’s made by a New Zealand designer, Gil Sanders and is inspired in adult colouring-in books. To me, it was a big shout out to Mexican icons and motifs.

For example, not seen in the picture, a piece at the back of the garment is shaped like a quetzal’s tail. The quetzal is a species that was sacred in the Mayan and Aztec civilizations and its plumage was used to decorate the clothing of kings and priests. It is the national bird of Guatemala. Quetzalcoatl (part quetzal part snake) is a deity in Aztec culture and literature.

Other motifs depicted included: mushrooms and fungi to represent the forest; flowers and leaves to represent gardens; rattlesnakes and cactus to represent desert; bird of paradise flower to represent the jungle; fish, squid, blue lobster to represent the ocean; rainbow, sun and water to represent weather and climate; horns for animals; macaw tail and peacock feathers for birds; moth, butterfly, bee and beetles for insects; and ghost orchid as a representation for endangered flowers.

One thing I found very interesting was a tooth on the neck piece. At first I wasn’t sure what it meant but after reading more about this garment, the heart, tooth and eyes in this garment are meant to represent mankind.

The black and white areas represent unfinished colouring in, when you’re impatient and want to turn to the next page!

Earthling, Gil Saunders, New Zealand

Aotearoa Section

New Zealand is a proud nation of tangata whenua Māori and a wide range of multicultural peoples living together on a mighty and sacred land.  

A place that is vibrant, breathtakingly beautiful, irreverent, and innovative. Be inspired by Aotearoa’s culture, history, landscapes, native wildlife, flora and fauna. Explore Aotearoa’s mana (spiritual power), mahi (hard work), manaakitanga (respect and welcome) and whakakata (humour).

Reflect your own connection with Aotearoa through a distinctive and meaningful work of wearable art. See Examples

One of the models in my dressing room, Georgia (also pictured wearing two other garments) got to wear the winner for this category, a Wētā (Wētā is the common name of a very iconic insect species endemic to New Zealand) shaped garment is Child·Hood, Craig McMillan, New Zealand.

Avant-garde Section

Take the concept of fashion and push the limitations. Explore a world that is experimental, radical, and unorthodox. Create a work of art that is forward thinking, unconventional and explores new forms of structure and design. See Examples

This section’s runner up, Sen No Hida (1000 folds) – the circular shaped garment, made with a folded cardboard material, red boots and hair (wig) was worn by Molly, another one of the models I got to share a dressing room with.

Open Section

A world with no thematic boundaries. Giving you freedom to explore and create your own design. The only limit is your own imagination. See Examples

In this section, you can see one of the garments I got to dress: Tears Unseen modelled by Molly. It was so cool to have dressed one of the winning garments. It was the runner up for this section. All the garments have beautiful background information about the reasoning or story that inspired them. This one was made as a reflection on post-partum depression. It is the blown shaped plastic translucent garment in the second picture. Molly also wore another garment shown here from the pre-show.

Gold Section

As the name said, this category is all about gold. One garment I dressed for this category was Audrina by Jill Benson and Jenna Collop, New Zealand listed above. Interestingly enough, some of the garments that were submitted to this category got moved into the open category if they didn’t fit in this category fully, for example if they weren’t fully gold.

Bizarre Bra Section

A really fun section where every model modelled. I got to dress Molly into Because I can by Denise Lamby, Australia and Zoe into Sugar tits by Deborah Bassett, New Zealand. Another runner up, Eyes Up here is worn by three models. The model in the middle is Georgia, whom I shared dressing room and I’ve mentioned from the pre-show.

Mars & Beyond Section

This was another really fun and unique section for this year’s theme. As you can imagine, there was a lot of inspiration from aliens and other worldly garments. Georgia, from my dressing room wore Jeanus Terrablis by Samantha Anderson, Australia (not depicted).

Other Categories

Have a look at the official World of WearableArt winners page for more details of each categories and prizes.

Previous Year’s Garments in Display inside TSB Arena

Some more garments in display inside of the arena’s premises, before entering the arena’s stage areas. The first level had two garments on display.

The second floor had quite a few more garments displayed. I actually missed this the day we went to watch the show. I came back one of the days we had two shows to go around and take some pictures of these area and garments.

Previous Year’s Garments in Display outside TSB Arena

For somebody like me that hadn’t seen the show before, seeing all the build up to the actual show was a spectacle in itself. Even if you weren’t going to watch the show, having a walk around the arena is a good idea. You’d be able to see some of the outfits displayed outside of the Arena. You also get to interact with some models wearing garments from previous years.

Pre-Show outside TSB Arena – Previous Year’s Character Garments Meet & Greet

As part of the volunteering perks, we were given 3 free tickets to watch the show. I brought my partner Jono, his brother Dominic and their mom, Alice. I was so happy to see her excited taking pictures and interacting with the characters wandering outside of the Arena for the pre-show. As well as watching and discussing the show with Dom, a very avid theatre fan (much like myself) and Jono.

WOW around the city

Being a Wellingtonian, I had the experience of going back and forth from my CBD apartment either cycling or walking for over 25 minutes tops. People come from different parts of the country or even other countries to watch the show. Many of the crew also come from different areas of New Zealand.

Wellington City Council

WOW as a touristic experience doesn’t stop at the show. Many places around the city offer special menus or activities relating to WOW. If you’re planning to visit Wellington in the future for WOW check out the info provided by Wellington Council. Regarding other services and activities relating to WOW as well as other Wellington tourist spots you shouldn’t miss!

Volunteering as a Dresser

I’ve been interested in the performing world for a long time. When I was in Mexico I modelled for a while and I’ve sewn a couple of garments in the past. I’ve even thought about getting into Costume making as a degree. Living in Wellington, I’ve heard of the World of WearableArt before but never thought about getting involved before, because of Covid.

This year I started reconciling with many of the activities I left behind after Covid. I thought about applying as a model but after not having done much of it since Covid, I felt I wasn’t ready to jump into such a huge event. I attended a Movement Workshop offered after missing the Modelling Auditions. There, I met many people of the different WOW departments. Additionally, a co-worker at Te Papa, Ana, had been a dresser for many years. Coincidentally, I shared the garments I dressed with here for the length of the show.

Meeting this amazing team was a great input into just one part of the extended WOW family. During the show, I got to meet and converse with people from other departments such as make up artists, models, garment techs and FOH crew. There was also dancers, aerialists, singers, hair specialists, light and sound experts and technicians, etc.

If you’re curious about getting involved yourself, reach out for an internship in the different departments, send an email. Look out for the volunteer and audition calls for next year at World of WearableArt page and social media. Many of the crew are volunteers or interns. This means everybody is here because they love the experience.

WOW’s Team | Careers: Volunteer/Jobs/Auditions

Thanks Ness and thanks WOW whānau for taking me under your wing and giving me this amazing opportunity and experience to get involved.

Thanks Di and Haylee, the dressers with whom I got to share the WOW dressing room experience. Ana, who was my contra part and shared the garments we dressed! Thanks to the lovely models Molly, Zoe, Jess, Georgia and Molly (yes, two Mollys). I loved dressing and sharing dressing space with.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission should you choose to sign up for a program or make a purchase using my links. It’s ok, I will only recommend products that I have personally used or care for – I love all of these products, and you will too! Learn more on my Private Policy page.

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Thanks for reading and see you next time! ♡

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Hello, this blog is written by a young artist and traveler looking to share the world from her perspective. 

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