9843 WOW_EMP Exhibition Image Mar16 with border

New Zealand’s largest art show, World of WearableArt™ will make its North American premiere at EMP Museum in Seattle, WA on July 2, 2016. A spectacular fusion of fashion and art, the exhibition showcases 32 award-winning garments from the international World of WearableArt™design competition and awards show staged every year in Wellington, New Zealand. The exhibit will be on display at EMP through January 2, 2017.

Now in its 28th year, World of WearableArt™ has attracted hundreds of entries worldwide including fashion designers, artists, sculptors, architects, blacksmiths, illustrators, costume-makers, and other artisans charged with the mission to take “art off the wall and adorn onto the human form.”  The contest rules allow an array of entries, welcoming anything that is in any way wearable, as long as it is original, beautifully designed, and well-made.

“EMP is thrilled to be the first venue in North America to host this stunning exhibition,” says Jasen Emmons, Director, Curatorial Affairs. “The bold ideas represented in these incredible works of art are fearless, beautiful, and engage the imagination in a powerful way.”


  • “Gothic Habit” worn shoulder to knee, a three-dimensional replica of a Gothic cathedral, by American designer Lynn Christiansen
  • “Persephone’s Descent,” a suit of armor made by Stuart Johnson, a New Zealand blacksmith and weapons maker for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy
  • “Born to Die,” a dress made completely of cable ties woven into a sculptural “vertebrae” to look like a fish skeleton, by design student, Guo Xia Tong from China
  • “Lady of the Wood,” a replica of a 17th-century ball gown made entirely of mahogany, lacewood, maple, and cedar, by Alaskan carpenter David Walker
  • “Ornitho-Maia,” a complex and ornately carved and embossed leather gown inspired by the ethereal protector of birds designed by Nadine Jäggi, New Zealand costume designer for films including Avatar, The Hobbit, and Prince Caspian
  • A special display of “bizarre” bras made of unconventional materials including kitchen utensils, a taxidermied hedgehog; and “aBRAcaplyse Now” which heralds the Mayan end of days and the civilization’s ancestral iguana God

Founding Director Dame Suzie Moncrieff who heads the creative team and curated the exhibition is very excited to see the exhibition travel abroad. “The World of WearableArt™ is the largest, most prestigious wearable art event in the world and New Zealand’s largest single annual theatrical event. The competition is a magnet for creative talent, attracting entries from over 23 countries and resulting in an historic collection of more than 600 garments at our New Zealand base. We are delighted to have the opportunity to show a selection of these astonishing designs to an American audience. Our entrants range from designers who display their work at London Fashion Week to industrial designers with backgrounds such as boat building to non-professional designers with a passion for the craft of making.  We look forward to inspiring future designers who come to view these works of wearable art.”

The exhibition features three distinct sections: a display of 32 garments from the permanent World of WearableArt™ collection including winners from the past 12 years; a workroom for visitors to design their own piece of wearable art; and an audio visual presentation of the annual World of WearableArt™ Awards Show.

The exhibition has been developed in partnership with the New Zealand Government and is expected to remain on tour in the United States through 2018.