Brian Burke, the creative talent behind award-winning Las Vegas spectacles, multi-media stage productions and smash-hit TV series joins World Of Wearableart as the new Executive Creative Director.

Burke will join forces with veteran Show Director Malia Johnston to deliver this year’s spectacular 2021 WOW Awards Show, from 30 September to 17 October.

WOW Founder, Dame Suzie Moncrieff says the competition has always attracted the world’s best designers and performers to New Zealand and Brian Burke is the latest exceptional international talent to join the team.

“World of WearableArt is all about creativity and new ideas so I am excited that Brian Burke is joining the team bringing his wealth of experience of large scale productions and his injection of creative flair. I look forward to WOW soaring to even greater heights in the future as we bring in new ideas and creative talent.”

Brian Burke | PHOTO: WOW

Brought on for a three-year term as an artistic consultant, Burke brings an impressive wealth of producing and directing experience across a range of genres from multi-media stage productions to smash hit tv series. His experience spans the international stage from Las Vegas and Broadway to the Sydney Opera House.

In 2002 Burke partnered with former Cirque Du Soleil mastermind Franco Dragone and served 10 years in his company as Artistic Director of Las Vegas Resident shows Celine Dion – A New Day, which became the highest-grossing residency of all time, and Le Rêve – The Dream, which won Best Production Show for nine consecutive years.

His worldwide stadium, arena and festival tours include Lionel Richie, Keith Urban, Westlife, Il Divo, Katherine Jenkins and Pitbull.

Burke is the creative producer of the world’s most successful TV format, America’s Got Talent and co-executive producer of American Idol. He creatively produced numerous shows internationally including Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor, The Latin Grammy Awards and earned an International Emmy Nomination as Co-Executive Producer of La Banda. He has produced hundreds of live TV performances for music superstars of all genres and his combined work to date has over five billion views.

Chrysanthemum & Amphitrite, Jack Irving, United Kingdom | PHOTO: WOW

“I have fallen in love with everything about WOW, the creativity, the garments, and especially the people,” said Burke in a press release. “Crafting unique live experiences with an incredible creative team has always been my passion, so I am truly honoured and humbled to become part of this very special WOW family.

“I am enthusiastic about the future and know the alchemy of our creative collaboration will bring new, exciting, and unforgettable experiences to WOW audiences.”

Building on his past successes, Burke will bring his artistic vision and concert-scale expertise to take the WOW show experience to the next level, says Chief Executive David Tingey.

“It’s exciting to have a new creative voice in the mix and we look forward to seeing the result of this collaboration play out on the TSB Arena stage,” he says.

This year’s show features three recurring sections – Aotearoa, Avant-garde and Open – as well as three new sections – Architecture, Elizabethan Era and Monochromatic.

Designers from across the globe are awaiting the first round of judging in Nelson in July where the finalists will be selected for the show.

This year’s judges include WOW Founder and resident judge, Dame Suzie Moncrieff, designer Elisabeth Findlay of Zambezi, and sculptor Jeff Thomson. Alongside the main judging panel for 2021 is International Guest Judge, Academy Award-winning costume designer, Alexandra Byrne, The Residency Experience Award Judge, Swedish-born fashion activist and celebrity stylist, B Akerlund, and the Weta Workshop Emerging Designer Award Judge, co-founder, CEO and Creative Director of Weta Workshop, Sir Richard Taylor.

Spirit-Bone,-Guo-Xiaotong,-China | PHOTO: WOW

Meet the WOW Creative Team

The 2021 creative team includes talent new to the world of WOW as well as returning WOW alumni. Working alongside Brian is Show Director Malia Johnston who has been involved with WOW for almost two decades. A choreographer and performance director, Malia is a brilliant craftswoman who has a talent for bringing out the best in performers. She has created a significant repertoire over the past 20 years across a range of genres from the lead choreographer of Auckland Theatre Company’s box office hit Billy Elliot -The Musical to director of multi-award-winning shows Meremere (three national tours) and Rushes programmed in the New Zealand Festival of the Arts. Malia will be directing all on-stage action, including working with choreographers, models, dancers and aerialists.

Another exciting new addition to the team is the Belgium-based audiovisual company Drop the Spoon. A collective of premier visual and conceptual artists, Drop the Spoon has contributed to a variety of internationally renowned shows and theatrical productions over the past 15 years. They provide a unique approach for every project that they develop covering conceptual design, video design, video editing, software expertise, technical production and award-winning directing. As Covid-19 made it impossible for them to be here in person to create the show’s AV, they are using Virtual Reality technology to visualise the space.

This is the fourth year that designer Robin Rawstorne has joined the WOW creative team. Robin comes from a global design background that was immersed in the worlds of theatre, dance and opera. Originally from the UK, he has worked extensively overseas including on large scale events in China.

With over 20 years of combined experience in dance and entertainment, Kayla Paige and Andrew Cesan are this year’s choreographers. The pair run Momentum Productions, one of New Zealand’s leading dance and entertainment companies, and will bring with them exceptional choreographers, world-class talent, costuming and artistic vision.

New Zealand-based composer, singer and guitarist Paul McLaney is Music Director for the third show running. For more than two decades, Paul has built a strong reputation for his solo and collaborative work with Kiwi musicians including Concord Dawn, Anika Moa, Fly My Pretties and SJD. His career spans drum and bass and electronica to symphony, jazz and blues.

Tangka, Qiongwen Zhang, London College of Fashion, United Kingdom | PHOTO: WOW

Paul is joined by Composer Eden Mulholland (Ngāti Uepohatu, Aotearoa). Eden is one of Australasia’s most respected composers and producers for theatre, film, and contemporary dance. A gifted multi-instrumentalist and digital artist, he is known for his generous and uninhibited delivery, whether performing solo or with his bands.

Australian Lighting Designer Chris Petridis returns for a third year with WOW. Chris has worked on dozens of stage performances developing his experience across theatre, dance, and other live events in Australia and internationally.

Sophie Ham and Gabrielle Stevenson join as Co-Costume Designers and will create all dancer and performer costumes. Sophie has been working on WOW Awards Shows since 2011 and has worked with a number of the top theatre and dance companies including New Zealand Opera, Auckland Theatre Company, Indian Ink Theatre Company and the Touch Compass Dance Company. Gabrielle is a costume designer with more than 20 years of experience in the film industry. She has designed for Reservoir Hill which won Digital Emmy for Best Teen Drama, the Hobbit, The Cure and Boy vs Girl.

The 2021 World of WearableArt Awards Show season will be on at the TSB Arena in Wellington from 30 September to 17 October. Tickets on sale now at Stay with The Last Fashion Bible for the latest World of WearableArt updates.



The Last Fashion Bible is an interactive hub of fashion and lifestyle-related video content, featuring a mix of both international and local runway shows, editorials, interviews, how-tos and much more.

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