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Designers from 8 countries win WoW awards; top prize to sisters from Christchurch

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Christchurch sisters Natasha English and Tatyanna Meharry won the World of WearableArt Awards in Wellington last night with War Story. Photo: World of WearableArt

News from World of WearableArt
Designers from eight countries have won awards at the World of WearableArt™ (WOW®) Awards in Wellington. The 2018 show features 140 finalist garments by 147 designers from 17 countries and regions, vying for 39 awards.

New Zealand’s largest theatrical performance, WOW is celebrating its 30th anniversary season in 2018. WOW combines the world’s leading wearable art design competition with a spectacular stage show that attracts an annual audience of around 60,000 people – over 40,000 of them travelling to the capital city from across New Zealand and around the globe.

This year’s Supreme WOW Award winner was WAR sTOrY by Natasha English and Tatyanna Meharry of Christchurch. The sisters are the first two-time Supreme WOW Award Winners, having taken the top award in 2013 for The Exchange. This year’s Supreme garment commemorates the more than 128,000 New Zealand men and women who served in World War I, of whom more than 18,000 never returned home. It was created using recycled objects such as old army and household blankets, salvaged rimu from demolished houses, old collected plastic toy soldiers, broken crushed red bricks and traded pieces of pounamu to create the garment.

WOW Founder and Head Judge Dame Suzie Moncrieff says WAR sTOrY is “an exceptional example of powerful storytelling realised through a work of art. An entry that the judges described as an exceptionally compelling realisation of a thought-provoking narrative that is flawless in its execution.”

Launched by Dame Suzie in 1987, WOW takes art off the wall and onto the human form. Over the past three decades, WOW has attracted some of the most cutting edge creative designers from across the globe. This year entries from 44 countries and regions vied for a coveted spot onstage. A record 17 countries and regions were represented in the show, showcasing designs by professionals from the fashion, art, design, costume and theatre industries, alongside students and first-time enthusiasts. WOW provides an opportunity for these creatives to experiment, push boundaries and explore design, materials and techniques.

This year’s show is presented as a series of six worlds, each with its own design provocation that designers have responded to. Along with the recurring Avant-garde, Aotearoa and Open sections are Under the Microscope, Reflective Surfaces and the biennial Bizarre Bra.

WOW’s 2018 judging panel consisted of WOW Founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff; Margarita Robertson, Creative Director of iconic fashion label NOM*d; Sam Gao, Weta Workshop Art Director and Business Development Manager; Weta Workshop Co-founder and CEO Sir Richard Taylor; Cirque du Soleil’s Nathalie Bouchard and International Guest judge Mary Wing To.

Garments go through a three-stage judging process to end up onstage, beginning in July. The garments are assessed for detail as well as their performance on stage.

World of WearableArt is on at TSB Arena, Wellington from September 27 until October 14. Tickets and more information at worldofwearableart.com.

Full list of winners

WAR sTOrY by Natasha English and Tatyanna Meharry (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Winner: Supreme WOW Award
Winner: Aotearoa Section

Ernst Haeckel’s Bride by Nika Danielska (Wroclaw, Poland)
Runner Up: Supreme WOW Award
Winner: Under the Microscope Section

Mind the Synaptic Gap by Grace DuVal (Chicago, United States)
Winner: Dame Suzie Moncrieff Award

Feminine Hell by Xia Tian, Yang Mengtong & He Fangyu (Shanghai, China)
Runner Up: Dame Suzie Moncrieff Award

Ancient Dreamscape by Kayla Christensen (Wellington, New Zealand)
Second: Aotearoa Section

Tar’White by Ali Middleton (Wellington, New Zealand)
Third: Aotearoa Section

Foreign Bodies by Dawn Mostow and Ben Gould (Seattle, United States)
Winner: International Award: Americas Design Award
Winner: International Design Award
Second: Under the Microscope Section

Coccinelle by Svenja (Brisbane, Australia)
Third: Under the Microscope Section

Underling by Gillian Saunders (Nelson, New Zealand)
Winner: Open Section

WOW Tools of the Trade by Shelley Scott (Auckland, New Zealand)
Second: Open Section

Ajaw Eamanom by David Walker (Eugene, United States)
Third: Open Section

Uplifting by David Kirkpatrick (Waikato, New Zealand)
Winner: Bizarre Bra Section

Le Spectacle! by Erna Van Der Wat and Karl Van Der Wat (Auckland, New Zealand)
Second: Bizarre Bra Section

Abreast of Time by Janice Elliott (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Third: Bizarre Bra Section

Echoplex – Goddess of Reverb by Natalie Hutton (Melbourne, Australia)
Winner: Avant-garde Section

Axminstress by Kate MacKenzie (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand)
Second: Avant-garde Section
Runner Up: Sustainability Award

Tangka by Qiongwen Zhang (London, United Kingdom)
Third: Avant-garde Section

The Wise Athena by Lau Siu San & Cathy, Sin Wei Chow (Hong Kong, China)
Winner: Reflective Surfaces Section
Winner: International Award: Asia Design Award

Hilandera by Julio Manuel Campos Lopez (Madrid, Spain)
Second: Reflective Surfaces Section

Lady Ethereal by Dawn Mostow (Seattle, United States) and Snow Winters (Tacoma, United States)
Third: Reflective Surfaces Section

Eye See you Fluffy Kōwhai by Tina Hutchison-Thomas (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Winner: New Zealand Design Award

Absinthium by R.R. Pascoe (Blue Mountains, Australia)
Winner: International Award: Australia and Pacific Design Award

Blue Star by Adam McAlavey (London, United Kingdom)
Winner: International Award: United Kingdom and Europe Design Award

Quantum by Annabelle Widmann (Santa Eulalia, Spain)
Winner: Cirque du Soleil Invited Artisan Award

Hide and Seek by Mingzhang Sun (London, United Kingdom)
Winner: First-Time Entrant Award

Baroness of Vortex 6 by Laura Thapthimkuna (Chicago, United States), Stephen Ions (Biddulph Moor, United Kingdom) & Patrick Delorey (New York City, United States)
Runner Up: First-Time Entrant Award

Shell by Zhang Qiyao (Shanghai, China)
Winner: Student Innovation Award

Under the Skin by Louise Byford (London, United Kingdom)
Runner Up: Student Innovation Award

Something Fishy: A Man-Eater Double Feature by Wendy Moyer (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)
Winner: Sustainability Award

236 Maiden Lane by Lynn Christiansen (San Francisco, United States)
Winner: Wearable Technology Award

Tangible Duality by Hanna Smith (Avoca Beach, Australia)
Runner Up: Wearable Technology Award

Spirit Bone by Guo Xiao Tong (Beijing, China)
Winner: Weta Workshop Emerging Designer Award

Kākāpō Queen by Stephanie Cossens (Wellington, New Zealand)
Runner Up: Weta Workshop Emerging Designer Award
Winner Stories

Australia

Hanna Smith’s (Avoca Beach, Australia) garment Tangible Duality crosses the divide between particle physics and fashion. “Fashion provides the medium for expressing and experiencing this invisible physics,” she says. The first time World of WearableArt designer says the garment is an attempt to marry her two great interests, which previously seemed conflicted. “I had continued to feel drawn toward the study of physics, despite having chosen to pursue my first love, costume design,” Smith says. The garment explores the interplay between positive and negative space, and was inspired by contemporary lace. Smith used laser cut cork bonded with wool, offering strength, lightness, and wearability to the garment.

Svenja (Brisbane, Australia) explores her continued fascination with the shapes, textures and iridescent metallic colours of insects in Coccinelle. French for beetle, Coccinelle explores insect beauty on a larger scale in haute couture form. Svenja was inspired by Thierry Mugler’s 1997 haute couture collection which explores the forms and beauty of insects. This is Svenja’s 12th World of WearableArt entry, having won first place awards in 2013 for Hakuturi and 2014 with Fenghuang.

The sonic shapes and textures Natalie Hutton (Melbourne, Australia) sees and feels when listening to music provided the inspiration for her garment Echoplex – Goddess of Reverb. She says it’s a combination of “the sharp lines and soft curves that grip, ripple, reflect and repeat off the planes of the body and flow onto the ground like goosebumps down your spine and arms when listening to that perfect song.” More than 50 metres of silk were meticulously hand stitched into a honeycomb grid before being sculpted into its final form. Hutton says it took more than 360 hours to create the garment which she started thinking about in 2010 while listening to music on the train, beginning the physical construction in 2016. Hutton is a first-time designer for World of WearableArt.

R.R. Pascoe (Blue Mountains, Australia) was inspired by the fabled hallucinogenic properties of the Wormwood plant in creating her garment Absinthium. “The Wormwood plant had an influence on the artistic styles and emerging arts movements of the Art Nouveau era,” she says. To create the garment, Pascoe used about 500 metres of hemp braid which was stitched, hand pleated and sculpted.

China

Lau Siu San and Cathy, Sin Wei Chow’s (Hong Kong, China) garment The Wise Athena was created to honour the courage of self-reflection. Playing on Socrates’ quote ‘knowing thyself is the height of wisdom’, Lau and Chow used PVC, mirror and gemstones to create the garment that reflects the beauty of Athena and her own universe – represented by the headpiece. The pair aimed for the simplest structure for the garment that wouldn’t crack or break under its own weight, settling on polycarbonate mirror. “It is able to reflect light from the environment during movements but avoids material fracture,” Lau says. The headpiece was lasercut in 2D, which naturally fell to create a 3D element resembling the universe. The garment’s nude element symbolises human energy and life, as well as the way the naked form has been celebrated and chastised at various points of human history since Ancient Greece.

Guo Xiao Tong’s (Beijing, China) garment Spirit Bone represents the enduring power of bone. While our appearance ages and changes, bone remains firm and immortal, long after the spirit leaves the body. This is Guo’s second World of WearableArt entry, having first created Born to Die in 2013.

Zhang Qiyao’s (Shanghai, China) garment Shell is described as a “sharp defense shell formed by an external stimulus to protect the soft body.” Qiyao is a first time World of WearableArt designer and a recent graduate of Donghua University.

The inspiration for Xia Tian, Yang Mengtong and He Fangyu’s (Shanghai, China) garment Feminine Hell is the Chinese legend of Shura hell. “This dress symbolises the sacrifice of innocent women swallowed by the hell monster,” Tian says. The legend says that after death prisoners will be banished to 18 different hells to suffer different punishments by monsters who swallow their souls, becoming part of the monster, she says. The garment is made from silica gel to create 400 different pained female bodies.

Mexico

Mexican folkloric creatures alebrijes were inspiration for Wendy Moyer’s (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico) garment Something Fishy: A Man-Eater Double Feature. Alebrijes are said to populate dreams, taking the shape of various animals combined with electric colours and endless patterns. “They remind me of the familiar but odd creatures of my childhood dreams. Most were fanciful, some were terrifying and none were drab and dull,” she says. It took her more than 28 weeks to create her garment, constructing and sculpting layers, creating the harness then sculpting the tentacles, heads, body and fins from wire mesh. Among the materials used in the garment are 54 clock gears, 82 large turquoise rings, 59 hearing-aid batteries, 155 watch buckles and 186 diamond scales. Many of the materials were recycled and items destined for landfill. This is her fourth finalist garment since 2010.

New Zealand
Auckland region
Nana’s pin cushion was inspiration for Shelley Scott’s (Mount Eden, Auckland) garment WOW Tools of the Trade. Scott, who had a total of four finalist garments in this year’s WOW Awards Show (two that she created with her daughters Jaime and Ashley), says while creating her entry last year she wanted to showcase the unconventional tools often used to create WOW garments. “I noticed my old pin cushion that I had inherited from my Nana. I looked around my workroom at all the various things I use to create my entries – from pliers, blowtorches, heatguns, glue guns, sewing machine, hammers – the list goes on and on.” Scott says the garment is a testament to the New Zealand No.8 Wire mentality that helps us be resourceful and creative. “Our ability – borne out of isolation – to improvise, create, invent, explore and adapt in order to solve problems is embodied in the WOW entries we submit,” she says. Scott is a first-time WOW finalist.

Le Spectacle! is designed to be a “celebration of the most amazing, eye-popping extravaganza of a show – none other than WOW!” says Erna Van Der Wat who designed the winning garment with her husband Karl Van Der Wat (Karaka, Auckland). A play on the words ‘spectacles’ (eyeglasses); ‘a spectacle’ (sight to behold); and ‘Le Spectacle’ (a spectacular live show), Erna says the garment celebrates WOW’s 30th anniversary show and the artistic journey designers have gone one. The designers were inspired by Erna’s Grandmama’s glamorous 1940s spectacles and were created using perspex, paper, vinyl film and LEDs bringing the garments’ peeping eyes to life. The Van Der Wat’s have had eight previous finalist garments since 2006. Their 2011 garment, Reflection won the WOW Factor Award (now the Dame Suzie Moncrieff Award) and the People’s Choice Award.

Waikato
David Kirkpatrick (Tuakau, Waikato) put his mechanical engineering background to work in his first-ever WOW garment, Uplifting. The Bizarre Bra is inspired by the GE X jet engine and 787 wing designs. Kirkpatrick says creating the garment helped him during a low period. “The project ‘uplifted’ me from a depressive point in my life by giving me a focus outside of the pressures of work and family life. The opportunity has given me space to create outside of my usual work design pressures” He used a small home 3D printer and fibreglass to create the garment, transforming his garage into his workspace. “It was challenging creating a large garment using a small home 3D printer, and combining old and new technologies together by using computer design but then using hours of hand finishing,” he says.

Hawkes Bay
Kate MacKenzie (Havelock North, Hawkes Bay) is a practising artist and former WOW Supreme Award winner who took her inspiration from carpets and hall runners for her 2018 entry, Axminstress. MacKenzie lamented the replacing of “woollen works of art that graced our floors and warmed our hearts” with “beige colourless weavings” and upcycled childhood memories into this Avant-garde garment. MacKenzie sourced the Axminster carpets from Trade Me: “The floral carpet was the exact image in my head… I don’t know why I had such a connection to this carpet, but it may be that my Grandma had it in her house.” The carpets required a lot of cleaning before they could be used to create her garment – “I hired a professional carpet cleaner and did a million rain dances on the upturned rugs to dislodge years of grit embedded in the wool.” MacKenzie won the Supreme WOW Award in 2014 for Poly Nation. This is her sixth finalist garment.

Wellington region
Kayla Christensen (Island Bay, Wellington) took inspiration from her ancestors for her garment Ancient Dreamscape. “As night dawns, the soul leaves the body and goes into a distinct dream realm. My ancestors live there, they are waiting to be remembered,” she says. “The ancestors that communicate while I sleep tell a story of my whakapapa and where I have come from.” She describes it as a “surreal feeling of waking up after being in another world and meeting my grandmothers with a sense of deja vu.” A talented artist, Christensen has painted the stories of her dreams, each portrait representing a grandmother with a family heirloom or a story that connects to a part of her culture. She drew, painted and sewed each painting by hand. Christensen has previously had six finalist garments in WOW and this year, for a period, reduced her hours at work to dedicate more time to her WOW entry. “I have pushed myself to the limits to create something that I have pulled from my dreams and into reality, sharing a little piece of my imagination for all to see.” Her 2017 entry, Kuini won her Third place in the Aotearoa Section and she’s previously won one other award. She studied fashion design at Massey University.

Inspired by the story of an early European whaler who was saved by Te Rauparaha, Ali Middleton’s (Seatoun, Wellington) garment Tar’White weaves together Māori and Pākehā cultures. Cloaks were born out of necessity for protection from the cold and many indigenous fibres were used to weave the cloaks, which were passed down through generations. The relationship between early Māori and Europeans, particularly during the rise of shore-based whaling, is explored through Middleton’s garment. “While Māori were quick to recognise the economic benefits of developing positive working relationships with Europeans, trade and other Pākehā practices were accepted on Māori terms with concepts like mana, tapu and utu playing significant roles.” The story of James (Worser) Heberley who narrowly missed death through the act of Te Rauparaha covering him with his cloak – symbolising protection – interested Middleton. “Te Rauparaha issued a warning “Hoki ki to kainga” (go home). Heberley took that advice and paddled back to Waikanae to pick up his wife Te Wai and their daughter, then paddled his canoe across the Cook Strait to their home in Te Awaiti (later known as Tar’White). This was New Zealand’s first shore-based whaling station. The year, 1833.” This is Middleton’s ninth finalist garment, having started entering WOW in 2008.

Stephanie Cossens (Johnsonville, Wellington) is a sculptor with an interest in soft sculpture and ceramics. A first time entrant of WOW, her garment Kākāpō Queen is created to raise awareness for the critically endangered birds with fewer than 160 left. “I wanted to create a garment that highlights the distinctive plump softness of the bird while also representing its strength, endurance, curiosity and confidence,” Cossens says. She created the headpiece entirely by hand, bending and riveting aluminium and sculpting each individual clay feather. “Using my hands I become close to the animal that emerges, taking time to be gentle and nurturing as the creature unfolds. Cossens studied visual arts at Otago Polytechnic and works as a freelance artist out of Honey Badger Creative Studio.

Nelson
Gillian Saunders’ (Richmond, Nelson) garment, Underling, is the second in an intended set of three garments celebrating WOW anniversaries. Gillian’s 2013 entry Inkling was tattoo and body art themed and was created for WOW’s 25th anniversary. Now she brings the second installment with Underling, a street art and graffiti-themed garment. The garment’s character is an “urban art warrior”, Saunders says, “committing art crimes to bring joy to inner city dwellers. But after a sudden and unexpected turn of events, she was forced to take her art off the walls, bridges and underpasses to adorn her body in the underworld.” Saunders took home the Supreme WOW Award in 2016 for her garment Supernova and has had 16 previous garments in the WOW Awards since 2000.

Christchurch
Previous Supreme WOW Award Winners, Natasha English and Tatyanna Meharry (CBD, Christchurch) have had six finalist garments on the WOW stage since they began entering in 2012. The sisters created their 2018 entry, WAR sTOrY as a representation of the more than 120,000 New Zealand men and women who served in World War I, of which more than 18,000 never returned home. The pair began planning for this garment in 2014, refining their ideas with the goal of getting it onstage in 2018, the centenary of the end of the Great War. They used recycled objects including old army and household blankets, salvaged rimu from demolished houses, old collected plastic toy soldiers, broken crushed red bricks and traded pieces of pounamu to create the garment. “We wanted to include as many tangible memories as well, using recycled materials that have been either collected over the years, traded or salvaged to help imbue this art piece with memories for past, current and future generations,” English says. The heavy weight of the memories and stories of the past pave the way for future generations of mokopuna to carry, she says. “The badges and symbols of honour are now worn by our generation, a deserving remembrance in this centenary year.” In 2013, their garment, The Exchange won the Supreme WOW Award, and they’ve picked up four other awards including runner up to Supreme award in 2016 for Baroque Star.

With 16 WOW finalist garments since 2006 and five finalist awards, Janice Elliott (Papanui, Christchurch) has spent a lot of time living and breathing WOW. One of two garments in this year’s show, Abreast of Time is a literal rumination on the concept of the ticking of the clock. Elliott says “Here is an old mantle clock illuminating the history of time. It comes from way back in time, some other time, when you could take your time. No one would ask ‘what’s the time?’ we didn’t run behind time and life was timeless.” Elliott says it’s a reminder to “take your time and keep ‘abreast of time’.”

Seeking inspiration from insects for this design, Tina Hutchison-Thomas (Mt Pleasant, Christchurch) settled on the poodle moth. The result is Eye See You Fluffy Kōwhai, which has been created with faux fur and crystals. Hutchison-Thomas explains: “I was drawn to the poodle moth with its beautiful fluffy body, which reminds me of luxurious opera cloaks from the 1920s.” Hutchison-Thomas set herself the task of dyeing non-traditional fabric like faux fur to create the garment, sewing about 3,500 crystals on the wings representing the eye you see on many butterflies and moths. This is Hutchison-Thomas’s second garment in WOW, having first entered in 2017.

Poland

Nika Danielska (Wroclaw, Poland) created her garment Ernst Haeckel’s Bride after visiting Dublin in 2017 where she went to see the Book of Kells, a Medieval manuscript from the 9th Century, however, she found the museum was closed. To cheer herself up she headed to a nearby bookshop where she discovered the book Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel, immediately falling in love with his illustrations. She was inspired particularly by radiolarians, microscopic intricate mineral skeletons and created the garment using wire, paper, paint and glue. “I know Haeckel’s works have been inspiration to many artists and this is my personal tribute to this great biologist and artist,” she says. This is Danielska’s first time entering World of WearableArt, and she has two finalist entries in this year’s competition.

Spain

Las Hilanderas (“The Spinners”) by Velazquez, also known as the Fable of Arachne, was the source of inspiration for Julio Manuel Campos Lopez’s (Madrid, Spain) garment Hilandera. Velazquez’s tapestry depicting the fable shows the mortal Arachne challenged by the goddess Athena to a weaving competition. On winning, Athena turned Arachne into a spider. “Much fashion starts with the spinning of fibres and weaving of cloth. This piece continues this tradition but challenges the convention of what is fabric and how it’s made,” he says. Growing up in a family of ropemakers, Campos Lopez discovered his passion for using threads as an art medium at a young age. Like a spider he weaved onto a circular frame, treating threads with resins and weaving in graduated colours to create the garment. “The beauty of the resulting garment is the lightness, the sinuosity of the curvaceous shapes lightly wrapping the body in an infinite loop,” he says. This is Campos Lopez’s first time entering World of WearableArt.

Lycra, latex, and air were used to create Annabelle Widmann’s (Santa Eulalia, Spain) garment Quantum, a representation of amplified atomic particles, exposed as a three-dimensional configuration. “Quantum is exactly that what we don’t see, it is that mystery that lies between you and me. It is the interconnecting particle that fills this space, binding us in unity,” Widmann says. She is a first time World of WearableArt designer.

United Kingdom

The character of Qiongwen Zhang’s (London, United Kingdom) garment Tangka is described as a “powerful heroine crossing time and space.” PVC, beads, and padding were used to create the triptych that makes up Tangka. Zhang says the character “travels across space and time and mixes the elements of stained glass from Western culture and the traditional Tibetan art form Tangka together.” This is Zhang’s first time as a World of WearableArt designer.

About 50,000 buttons were used to create Mingzhang Sun’s (London, United Kingdom) garment Hide and Seek. Sun, a first-time designer, says it represents an HIV patient. He hand pressed each button to create the garment. “They are in the pattern of different animals and it represents the food chain. The food chain represents the patient eaten by the virus,” Sun says. Having finished the garment and been through long-term treatment himself, Sun says the garment brings back lots of memories “which relate to the reason that I made this artwork, and I am very happy that I made it to this stage.”

Adam McAlavey (London, United Kingdom) says his garment, Blue Star, represents the horror and wonder he feels looking at the stars. “The scale of time and space I can’t comprehend gives me endless nightmares and inspiration.” Each of the three latex sections are placed on the body and air is vacuumed out to create precise and elegant shapes, while constricting and controlling the model’s movement. McAlavey says he wanted to see how far he could push what’s possible making wearable latex vacuumed shapes. “The idea is to completely restrict many parts of the human body and only allow specific parts to move, creating a human puppet.” McAlavey, who’s had two previous World of WearableArt award-winning garments, says it’s taken more than a year to find a concept that allows the model to move and walk. McAlavey was the 2017 Cirque du Soleil Invited Artisan Award winner.

Louise Byford’s (London, United Kingdom) garment Under the Skin explores the ideas of costume as a second skin. Latex has been sculpted and distorted to represent muscular-like tissue and veinal structures, bringing our innards to the surface. “It aims to question ideas around beauty, the grotesque, and the way in which we judge humans based on appearance. It also explores the idea of ‘genetic manipulation’, re-shaping and distorting the silhouette through sculptural and architectural forms,” Byford says. She stretched latex sheets over giant frames and poured liquid latex coloured with paint over the top, blending and spreading it and leaving it to dry before releasing the sheets from their frames to create the distorted ridges and grotesque shapes.

United States

Lynn Christiansen (San Francisco, United States) has created a garment satisfying her childhood fascination for where princesses from fairy tales live. 236 Maiden Lane is created using wood, metal, thousands of individual pieces of felt, as well as more than seven litres of fabric glue. “Little did I know I would have to use so much math in its construction as I had to deal with differing circumferences and geometries to get it to work,” she says. The asymmetrical fantasy castle is described as a “delightful property with old-world charm and breathtaking views fit for a queen”. Christiansen says as a child she was always more interested in palaces and castles than gowns and dresses. “If only I could explore all the fascinating rooms, towers and hallways of a castle. What magic it would be to live in a castle,” she says. Christiansen has had 13 previous World of WearableArt garments, winning the Open award for Gothic Habit in 2014, which was also runner up to the Supreme WOW Award.

Ancient civilisations mixed with the modern punk movement proved inspiration for David Walker (Eugene, United States). His garment, Ajaw Eamanom depicts “someone of importance with a little bit of attitude,” he says. The name comes from the Mayan word for ‘ruler’ and his mother’s name – Mona Mae – spelled backwards. Walker says “at 93 [she] is still the boss of the seven of us.” He began with simple sketches but it took on a life of its own, with changes and additions as he constructed, which he says was a “rewarding way to design”, although many extra hours were spent perfecting. Walker is a previous Supreme World of WearableArt Award winner, having taken the top honour for his 2009 garment Lady Of The Wood. Ajaw Eamanom is his eighth World of WearableArt garment.

Wife and husband team Dawn Mostow (Seattle, United States) and Ben Gould’s triptych garment Foreign Bodies showcases a love of science fiction, an appreciation for technological frontiers and a dash of humour. The inflatable bodysuits resemble a red blood cell, a white blood cell and the third a “world beyond this microcosm”, a group of “foreign bodies” clinging to an outer casing. “Each of these ‘nanites’ represents the newly pioneered nanotechnology frequently featured in the news today,” Mostow explains. The garment leaves open the questions of whether the third cell was sick to begin with, or whether the nanites infected the cell with something malevolent. Mostow has another award-winning garment in this year’s show, Lady Ethereal, which she created with Snow Winters.

Dawn Mostow (Seattle, United States) and Snow Winters’ (Tacoma, United States) garment Lady Ethereal offers a Victorian silhouette reimagined for the space age. The cyberpunk garment is a celebration of feminine form and celestial possibilities. The pair met at their local maker space last year and became fast friends, bonding over laser cutting and wearable technology. Mostow looked at Victorian silhouettes to achieve a curvaceous, flowing and powerful form in galaxy-patterned latex, while Winters explored the challenge of transforming acrylic into a material that pushed it past its rigid nature, creating a shape that echoed the gown’s voluptuous shape. Mostow, a fashion designer, has created latex garments for films including Total Recall and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as well as on pop stars including Katy Perry and Beyonce. Mostow first learned of World of WearableArt after visiting the international exhibition at Seattle’s EMP Museum. Mostow has another award-winning garment in this year’s show, Foreign Bodies, which she created with her husband Ben Gould.

Grace DuVal (Chicago, United States) was inspired by her struggles with depression in creating Mind the Synaptic Gap. She describes the garment as a “joy monster, a personification of depression.” The unpredictable creature can go from silly and hyper one minute to lackadaisical and aloof the next, she says. The body was created using 350 recycled bicycle inner tubes while the head is iridescent vinyl covering carved, sharp facets. “For the past decade I have dealt with anxiety and depression, and have often marvelled at
how deeply altered my moods can become simply because of one tiny compound that circulates through my body and brain,” DuVal says. In 2017 she created an award-winning piece which was runner up to the WOW Supreme Award, Refuse Refuge where she discovered the process of bike tube fringing and she began working on this year’s garment the day she got back from last year’s show.

Laura Thapthimkuna (Chicago, United States), Stephen Ions (Biddulph Moor, United Kingdom) and Patrick Delorey’s (New York City, United States) garment Baroness of Vortex 6 is described as an “ancient being awoken from a rip in the space time continuum”. This will open a portal to another dimension where the Baroness will emerge from. Made using plastic, silk, steel and vinyl, this garment from first-time WOW entrants is entered in the Avant-garde Section. Her head and torso are ornate with a complex black exoskeleton that “has the power to swallow entire galaxies,” explains Thapthimkuna. “The lower torso of her body encompasses a slightly spherical landscape of dark matter with a curtain of silver folds beneath it that contain the actual folds of space time.” She says with the Baroness’ arrival, a “new cosmic age will be upon us all.”

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