WOW 2011 continues to amaze

WOW 2011 continues to amaze

The Brancott Estate World of WearableArt Awards show (WOW) has wrapped up another record-breaking season in Wellington.

The 2011 Season, staged once again at the TSB Arena on Wellington's waterfront, featured a record 12 shows - two more than last year - over two and a half weeks to coincide with the Rugby World Cup and theREAL New Zealand Festival. As usual the season was virtually booked out.

And for the third year in a row the top prize went to an overseas designer.

London-based designer and saddler Mary Wing To took the Supreme WOW Award with her representation of the beautiful female centaur Hylonome of Greek mythology (pictured). Hylonome also won the Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde Section.

WOW founder and co-judge Suzie Moncrieff says Hylonome is a labour in leather and of love, and shows Mary's multiple skills as a fashion designer and saddler.

"Mary has used various leather crafting techniques to create Hylonome," she says. "The entire garment is handcrafted and hand laced together using 200 metres of leather lace, and even the horse's head is hand moulded in leather. It is absolutely beautiful close up and from afar and in performance, and it deserves its Supreme win and its first placing in the Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde section."

Mary Wing To is a Wimbledon-based fashion designer turned saddler/leather artist who has entered five garments in WOW over the last four years, including the winning entry in the International Section in 2009.

She says leather is an incredible material to work with.

"Leather is an incredible luxury material that has unique scars of beauty embedded for life, so no two pieces are the same. For me, no other material feels or looks like it, or has the distinctive quality aroma. The beauty in working with such a material is that you learn to expect the unexpected, and that's why I'm so fascinated by it and constantly thrive on it."

There were a total of 160 garments in the show, which also featured 400 performers and crew including the full company of the Royal New Zealand Ballet along with dancers from Wellington's Footnote Dance company and first year performers from the New Zealand School of Dance. Other highlights were the performance of two Wellington born opera singers, tenor Ben Makisi and London based soprano Aviale Cole, along with legendary performer John Rowles.

WOW is a unique New Zealand experience, and is clearly established as one of the outstanding international events on the New Zealand events calendar, and as one of the most prestigious art and fashion competitions in the world. 

wow11-5UK entertainer Stephen Fry who attended this year's performance, was so moved by the show that he tweeted to his three million plus followers: "WOW in every sense! Just attended one of the great evenings of my life. Kiwis should be so proud. Simply fantastic."

More than 50 makeup artists and hairstylists work on the show, mainly makeup and beauty students and tutors from the Wellington Institute of Technology. Our backstage action photo shows dancer Taane Mete waiting to have his makeup done.

Continuing its unique New Zealand connection, the complete makeup for WOW is provided by the largest New Zealand owned makeup company, Wendy Hill Cosmetics.

wow11-4WOW CEO, Gabrielle Hervey (on the right in our photo with Wendy Hill on the left) says she is delighted with the success of the association between the two companies.

"We have been delighted with the performance of the makeup, and the results - as seen on stage and in our photography - is stunning," she says.  "We're thrilled that we're able to have this highly successful connection between WOW and Wendy Hill Cosmetics, which is another leader in the unique New Zealand field of fashion and art."

Wendy Hill Cosmetics Managing Director Wendy Hill says as a New Zealand makeup brand, the company is very proud to be the exclusive makeup partner of WOW.

"It's a privilege for us to be the excusive makeup supplier for this unique and hugely popular international event, which is growing bigger and more influential year by year," she says. "We think it is marvellous that WOW, as a major New Zealand brand, recognizes and is so supportive of unique New Zealand companies like us and other successful New Zealand brands."

Posted: Tue 22 Nov 2011