More than 30 years ago Dame Suzie Moncrieff dreamt of a creative platform that would give artists, designers and makers the opportunity to express their creativity and see their work presented in extraordinary ways. These days WOW is a New Zealand homegrown phenomenon that has grown into a revered international movement for wearable art.


2017 World of WearableArt Awards Show – Red section 


There are many things that make WOW special and unique and one of them is the principle that truly anyone can enter. WOW designers come from all walks of life and backgrounds; some from traditional professional backgrounds such as design and fashion but many come from unrelated fields such as architects, doctors, engineers, welders, homemakers…..the list goes on!


Chica Under Glass, 2013 Supreme WOW Award Runner-up, was designed by Peter Wakeman, a boatbuilder from Motueka, New Zealand. Click here to read more about his journey with WOW


When you are entering the World of WearableArt Awards Competition for the first time there are lots of things to think about. Following are a few of our top tips for first-time entrants –

  • Do some research and set a benchmark in your mind about the standard of the garment you want to create. Looking back at images of garments that have been successful in WOW in the past is a good idea. Not because you want to copy them but because it will help you develop a good eye for design and establish what has been done before. And it’s okay if you use the same material as has been used for other designs but think about how you can use it in a different way and put your own unique spin on it.
  • Make sure you love your idea. You’ll potentially be working on it for some time so it’s important that you really love it. And don’t create what you think others want to see; be true to yourself.


Inkling, Gillian Saunders, New Zealand


  • Adopt the right mind-set before you start. Expect that some things will not go according to plan but see it as an opportunity to improve and develop on the initial idea rather looking at it as an obstacle.
  • Inventive use of materials and techniques will help to set your entry apart. Be bold and innovative.


Banshee of the Bike Lane, Grace DuVal, United States, made with bicycle inner tubes, chains, cogs and wheel.


  • Aim to start early on your garment to allow time for your ideas to evolve organically rather than forced and under time pressure.
  • Think about the performance potential of your garment; how do you envisage it moving and appearing on stage? what story are you telling?


Kākāpō Queen, Stephanie Cossens, New Zealand


  • Edit, edit, edit. Photograph your garment (with a model in it if possible) so that you can step back and look at what adjustments may be needed. You can often see a lot more from a photograph than with the naked eye.
  • Remember you are creating a work of art, not fancy-dress. Know when to adopt the less is more approach…..and equally the more is more approach i.e. does it need something taken away to ensure it doesn’t look confused or too busy, or is it missing an element that will really bring the whole design together? Clean lines are important but sometimes a garment isn’t quite resolved because the designer hasn’t used enough of the material so think big in terms of volume and density.
  • Your garment needs to look polished inside and out. And as good from the back as it does from the front.


Ancient Dreamscape, Kayla Christensen, New Zealand


  • The right footwear is important. Depending on your design, high heels may elevate the end result and have more impact than no shoes or flat shoes. And sometimes a minimal look i.e. no shoes or very simple flats are the way to go. If you are including high heels, make sure the heel is a safe height and the shoes can be comfortably worn by a model.
  • Try your garment on or have someone else try it on for you. Check for weight distribution i.e. make sure it’s not too heavy or unbalanced to be safely worn and moved in, test visibility and breathability if your garment includes a headpiece.


Encapsulate, Rinaldy Yunardi, Indonesia


  • The final photographs that you take of your garment and how you present your work is very important. If you’re able to, think about using a professional photographer and model for the photo shoot. They will be able to work with you to ensure that your garment is presented as strongly as possible. It is worth investing in this to give your entry the best chance of success in the initial judging stage and they will also be images that you can keep for life as part of your creative portfolio.
  • Give us a strong narrative for your entry; clearly describe the inspiration/story behind the garment, include information about types of materials used, quantities of materials e.g. 700 feathers, 2,000 sequins, etc. and any interesting bits of information about techniques used and how you constructed your garment. This will make it easier for the judges to visualise and understand the concept behind your garment. Remember wearable art is all about storytelling!


WAR sTOrY, Natasha English and Tatyanna Meharry, New Zealand


We recently caught up with four accomplished New Zealand wearable art designers and asked them what being a WOW designer means to them and what advice they would give to someone who is thinking of entering for the first time. We hope the advice from this talented group of designers helps and inspires you to begin work on your own piece of wearable art!