World of WearableArt (WOW) returns to Wellington 27 September – 14 October and this year the renowned event is celebrating the milestone of 30 years in business as New Zealand’s leading platform showcase of wearable art.

The show will be 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, this year will also include Under the Microscope, Reflective Surfaces and crowd-favourite, Bizarre Bra.

Finalists had been selected from 17 countries, up from 13 in 2017. New Zealand designers are the single most represented country with 65 finalist designers. Twenty-four finalist designers have been selected from China and 15 from the United States. Other countries represented include Poland, Greece, South Korea, Mexico and Russia.

World of WearableArt Chief Executive Gisella Carr said the selection of the 2018 finalists underlines the international interest in entering the competition.

“It’s fantastic to see 84 returning designers who want to be a part of our 30th-anniversary show celebrations, among them eight previous Supreme WOW Award winners,” said Carr. “Along with designers, our creative team also has significant returning talent headed by WOW Founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff and Show Director Malia Johnston who has worked on 14 WOW Shows.”

The first round of judging took place in early July in Nelson. This year, alongside World of WearableArt Founder and Resident Judge Dame Suzie Moncrieff, the judges are Margarita Robertson, Creative Director of iconic fashion label NOM*d, and Sam Gao, Art Director and Business Development Manager at Weta Workshop.

World Of WearableArt Over 30 Years

The longevity of WOW and the number of people who continue to submit creative entries from all over the world is a testament to the success of the show. We spoke to three finalists ahead on what to expect from the 30th-anniversary show.

Tina Hutchison-Thomas

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Tina Hutchison-Thomas has been a costume designer for the last 20 years and currently freelances for The Court Theatre and The New Zealand Musical Consortium. She also designs and styles for film, TV and the theatre.

What is your aesthetic/style when it comes to designing?

Tina: I am passionate about the history of fashion, particularly researching and designing. My design aesthetic is usually based around texture and tone. I am a tactile person and like to find textiles that are unusual or different that have a good handle and will be interesting to work with.

What does it mean to you to be included in the World of WearableArt 30th anniversary show?

I am feeling very lucky and privileged to be a part of this event, I am so fortunate to be included in a community of such talented and creative people. There are some amazing veteran WOW designers that have won many previous awards in this year’s show, so I am looking forward to being part of a very special anniversary celebration.

Talk us through the background of your incredible garment from 2017 WOW show, Geogami. What was your inspiration and how did you feel seeing it on the WOW stage?

I wanted to challenge myself in terms of doing something new, so I went with polyhedrons, a technique I had read about, and decided to apply this into a design that had stage presence and was bold in its concept. I wanted a futuristic feel to the garment and wanted to follow the angles so I made the collar shape first, and kept repeating the angles into the waist.

Repetition and scale in the design were important for me as I wanted impact on a large stage. It was a fun concept where it constantly evolved and transformed into its own character. I am really happy with how it looked on stage, how the model brought Geogami to life.

Rodney Leong

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Rodney Leong works as a pattern maker and textile designer in the clothing industry.

What is your aesthetic/style when it comes to designing?

Rodney: I work in a very organic way. I do start off with an idea but as it progresses and with what’s happening around me; my ideas tend to change along the way.

I do love the handmade element to things — not quite perfect — a little misshapen and tend to see myself heading back to that form. I also love technology; 3D printers are amazing! But it’s nice to physically touch and create each piece by hand.

What does it mean to you to be included in the 30thanniversary show?

It’s an awesome achievement for the whole WOW Team – 30 years is an amazing period of time to amass creativity and knowledge from humble beginnings!

It was really hard to get an entry done this year as work was really frantic but I really would have been disappointed if I hadn’t have attempted to get an entry together for a milestone like 30 years.

Why do you continue to enter World of WearableArt?

I think WOW is an addiction. Because I work on other people’s creative work, it’s great to have projects like WOW with no restraints on cost or commercial use, only time. And it’s your own work; it’s therapy in a way, too. Any stuff going on in your life, throw all that negative energy into something positive.

Are there any memorable moments from your past WOW experience?

A box I needed to make for one entry getting stuck going down a stairwell! I made the box extra strong so the sides, top and bottom wouldn’t collapse; I made it too well! It was a BIG box – I think you could stand a person in it with arms spread out. It was the last few days before it had to be in Nelson – it cost an arm and a leg to get it there.

I didn’t think about getting the box through doorways, down a hallway and down two flights of stairs. At that stage, I was so tired and over the whole thing I literally threw, pushed, hammered and dropped it down — one way or another it got out the door — a little worse for wear but it got to Nelson in one piece [laughs].

Renee Louie

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Renee Louie is an Assistant Manager and retail stylist at the Jane Daniels store in Wellington.

What is your aesthetic/style when it comes to designing?

Renee: My aesthetic and design style varies from project to project but I’d have to say that I enjoy repetition of detail in combination with a very sculptural silhouette which creates an impact from afar and up close.

What does it mean to you to be included in the 30th-anniversary show?

Ten years ago, my best friend and fellow 2018 WOW finalist Kayla Christensen and I won our high school wearable arts competition. Our prize was tickets to see our very first World of Wearable Art show. It just happened to be that our first experience of WOW was the 20th-anniversary show. After that, we decided we would enter WOW the following year and we have been entering as a team and then individually ever since. It’s not only a milestone for WOW but it’s an anniversary for my entire WOW experience too.

Why do you continue to enter WOW?

Every year as the deadline looms I struggle to find an original idea and just when I think I’ve had enough I can’t help but make a creation. I’ve said it before that I’m addicted to WOW because I feel like I’m missing out if I don’t at least try, and so far I’ve been successful with nine finalist entries, two of those were in a design team with Kayla Christensen.

Seeing all of my hard work up on stage is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced. Also getting to meet fellow designers is a wonderful experience too as we share a mutual understanding of all the hard work that goes into creating a WOW entry, it’s truly inspirational.

Is there a garment from your World of WearableArt back catalogue you’re especially proud of?

I’m most proud of my 2017 WOW garment Sporadica, which was inspired by the basket fungi. This may not have been my most successful entry in terms of awards, but it was successful in getting exposure as a designer. Much to my surprise, Sporadica was selected to be a close-up detail image used for the start of the Avant-Garde section in the WOW catalogue and it also featured in the center front of stage in the finale performance which happens at the end of every show.

New Zealand’s most spectacular stage show will be returning for its 30th year this September in Wellington. Sixty-thousand attendees are expected to attend the 2018 World of WearableArt Show season from 27 September to 14 October. Tickets are now available online. See below for the full list of World of WearableArt finalists 2018.

World of WearableArt Finalists 2018


Bay of Islands (2 finalist designers)

  • Isa Hackett
  • Lynda O’Rorke

Auckland region (20 finalist designers)

  • Ian Bernhard
  • Sally Blyth
  • Jayne Boesley
  • Alana Braddon-Parsons, Jolie Lam (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • Beatrice Carlson
  • Irma Covey
  • Lucy Danner
  • Carolyn Gibson
  • Rodney Leong
  • Maria McSporran
  • Ben Ng-Wai Shing
  • Violet Oliver, Alana Braddon-Parsons (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • Violet Oliver
  • Shelley Scott, Jaime Scott, Ashley Scott (three finalist designers in a design team with two finalist entries)
  • Shelley Scott (has two finalist entries in her own right)
  • Sophie Smythe
  • Erna Van Der Wat, Karl Van Der Wat (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • Clara Wigmore
  • Bay of Plenty (3 finalist designers)
  • Louise  Pickford
  • Shona Tawhiao
  • Kim Wood

Waikato (1 finalist designer)

  • David Kirkpatrick

Taranaki (2 finalist designers)

  • Anne Aitchison
  • Sheela Stoneman

Hawkes Bay (5 finalist designers)

  • Anna Grapes
  • Laurel Judd
  • Kate MacKenzie (has two finalist entries)
  • Rhys Richards, Kelsey Roderick (two finalist designers in a design team with three finalist entries)

Wellington region (15 finalist designers)

  • Michael Bennington
  • Kayla Christensen
  • Fifi Colston (two finalist entries)
  • Stephanie Cossens
  • Helena de Kok
  • Brita DellaBarca
  • Paula Jackson
  • Malini Jayathissa
  • Renee Louie
  • Natasha Macaulay
  • Ali Middleton
  • SharonPainter-Arps
  • Louisa Marie Paterson
  • Vicky Robertson (two finalist entries)
  • Jenny Sutton

Nelson (7 finalist designers)

  • Janet Bathgate
  • Carol Hargadon
  • Meg Latham
  • Gillian Saunders
  • Mary Turner
  • Mike Ward (has a finalist entry in his own right)
  • Mike Ward, Jonty Ward (two finalist designers in a design team)

Christchurch (8 finalist designers)

  • Janice  Elliott (two finalist entries)
  • Natasha English, Tatyanna Meharry (two finalist designers in a design team)Simon Hames
  • Tina Hutchison-Thomas
  • Loretta Sloan
  • Kim Strange, Paul Strange (two finalist designers in a design team)

Otago (2 finalist designers)

  • Ruth Arkless
  • Carolyn Laing


Australia (9 finalist designers)

  • Jasna Bajlo Carr
  • Erica Gray (two finalist entries)
  • Natalie Hutton
  • R. R. Pascoe
  • HannaSmith
  • Philippa Stichbury
  • Jessica Thompson
  • Annabelle Widmann
  • Svenja

China (12 finalist designers)

  • Cheng  Qi
  • Zhang  Qiyao
  • Ma Shunshun
  • Xia Tian, Yang Mengtong, He Fangyu (three finalist designers in a design team)
  • Gao Wenzhi
  • Guo Xiao Tong
  • Wu Xinyue
  • Liu Xuancheng
  • Sun Ye
  • Li Yiran

China (Hong Kong) (11 finalist designers)

  • Yeung  Ping Chun
  • Tam Shun Him
  • Lau Siu San, Cathy, Sin Wei Chow (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • Chan Suet Yi
  • Wing Ting Mok, Wing Yu Ho (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • Chan Tsz Kwan
  • Yiu Wai Ching
  • Chan Wai Tung
  • Chung Wai Hei

China (Macau) (1 finalist designer)

  • Alina Garcia

France (1 finalist designer)

  • Marine Arnoul

Germany (2 finalist designers)

  • Anto Christ, Casio Ono (two finalist designers in a design team)

Greece (1 finalist designer)

  • Melissanthi Spei

India (2 finalist designers)

  • Jubinav Chadha
  • Shantanu Singh

Mexico (1 finalist designer)

  • Wendy Moyer

Netherlands (1 finalist designer)

  • Saar Snoek

Poland (1 finalist designer)

  • Nika Danielska (two finalist entries)

Russian Federation  (1 finalist designer)

  • Maria Amirova

South Korea (1 finalist designer)

  • Cho Keunsu

Spain (1 finalist designer)

  • Julio Manuel Campos Lopez

Taiwan (13 finalist designers)

  • Miao Chi-Feng, Jiang Sin-Ting, Chen Xin-Ru (three finalist designers in a design team)
  • Kuo Fang-Yu, Hsu Yi-Ting, Chang Chih-Ling (three finalist designers in a design team with two finalist entries)
  • Lin Kaun Yu
  • Lin Yi-Chun, Chao Li-chia, Li Hsin-Yu (three finalist designers in a design team with two finalist entries)
  • Chen Yiyu
  • Li Zi-Jin, Tseng Wen-Min (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • Thailand (2 finalist designers)
  • Saruda Nimpitakpong, Chinachan Nimpitakpong (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • United Kingdom (8 finalist designers)
  • Louise Byford
  • Daisy May Collingridg
  • Anna Cortada
  • Daheng Liu
  • Adam McAlavey
  • Liam Brandon Murray
  • Mingzhang Sun
  • Qiongwen Zhang

United States (15 finalist designers)

  • Susan Avila
  • Kelly Belt
  • Lynn Christiansen
  • Grace DuVal
  • Julian Hartzog(three finalist entries)
  • Galina Mihaleva
  • Dawn Mostow, Ben Gould (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • Dawn Mostow, Snow Winters (two finalist designers in a design team)
  • Marjorie Taylor
  • Laura Thapthimkuna, Stephen Ions, Patrick Delorey (three finalist designers in a design team)
  • David Walker
  • Weixue Zhang

World of WearableArt Key Dates:

  • 6-8 July: First judging weekend
  • 20 July: Finalist designers announced
  • 27 September: Opening night
  • 28 September: Awards night
  • 14 October: Closing night
Tiana Grace

Tiana Grace

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