The World of WearableArt is back and weaving its magic once again by providing a unique opportunity for designers from within New Zealand and all over the world to have their incredible works of wearable art brought to life on the WOW stage in front of an audience of more than 55,000 people.
‘WOW provides the perfect platform for coming together in 2021 to rejoice in the creative excellence and imagination of wearable art designers from within New Zealand and around the globe. This year I am thrilled to be joined on the judging panel by an impressive line-up of local and international creative industry leaders and innovators.’
– Dame Suzie Moncrieff
2021 Judging Panel
The judging panel is led by WOW Founder and Resident Judge, Dame Suzie Moncrieff, and this year she will be joined by acclaimed New Zealand sculptor, Jeff Thomson, and co-founder of renowned fashion brand Zambesi, Elisabeth Findlay.
Alongside the main judging panel for 2021 is our 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.
Read more about each of our judges for 2021 below.
Dame Suzie Moncrieff
Creator and founder of the original WOW concept, Dame Suzie Moncrieff staged the first WOW Show in Nelson in 1987 as a promotion for a rural art gallery, based on her vision to take art off the wall and exhibit it as a live theatrical show.
Dame Suzie has personally received several awards for her achievements and contribution to the arts. She was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998 and made a Dame in the 2011 New Year’s Honours. She was also awarded 2011 Wellingtonian of the Year for her contribution to the arts and was a finalist in the 2012 New Zealander of the Year Awards.
In 2014 Dame Suzie was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Massey University for her contribution to the public in the field of art and design. In 2015 Dame Suzie was named the Deloitte Top 200 visionary leader for the year.
Auckland born Jeff Thomson has worked predominantly with corrugated iron since he became a fulltime sculptor in 1986. Often working on a large scale and outdoors, his sculptures explore the landscape they inhabit with playfulness and spontaneity.
In 1995, Thomson was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago, Dunedin and in 2000 he was the Tylee Cottage Artist in Residence Wanganui. His work is included in the public collections of prominent New Zealand institutions including, Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, Christchurch Public Art Gallery, Christchurch and The Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; as well as international collections at Heidi Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, Australia, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Victoria, Australia and Vogtland Museum, Plauen, Germany.
Thomson now lives and works in Helensville, Auckland
and has twice won the Open section at WOW, once with his niece, Fenella Fenton.
In 1979, New Zealand designer, Elisabeth Findlay, alongside Neville Findlay, founded Zambesi, a fashion brand that maintains a consistent and unique signature and is proudly made in New Zealand. Zambesi celebrates individual spirit, redefines convention with an ironic practicality, and confirms its reputation in the global market for strength, beauty and independence.
Findlay works instinctively, taking carefully chosen cloth in unexpected directions. The clothes reflect both realism and imagination, creating pieces that endure. One collection evolves into the next, building a timeless wardrobe for its faithful customers.
Zambesi has flagship stores in Auckland and Wellington and supplies selected stores across Australasia.
Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne has worked extensively in television and theatre as a set and costume designer, has earned six Academy Award nominations, and won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for the film, Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Her television credits include Roger Michell’s Persuasion, for which she received the BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, and The Buddha of Suburbia, for which she received a BAFTA nomination and RTS award. In theatre, Byrne received a Tony nomination for Best Set Design for Some Americans Abroad, which transferred from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the Lincoln Center in New York.
Byrne has achieved many accolades and awards for her work with Marvel productions, including Thor, The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Guardians of the Galaxy, and has designed costumes for Warner’s 300, Rise of an Empire. Her work on Doctor Strange garnered a CDG Award and a Satellite Award nomination as well as receiving a CDG Award nomination and Satellite Award nomination for Murder on the Orient Express. Byrne collaborated with Josie Rourke on Mary Queen of Scots and received Oscar, BAFTA and CDG nominations. More recently she designed The Aeronauts with Tom Harper, The Mauritanian with Kevin Macdonald and Emma with Autumn de Wilde for which she has received Oscar, BAFTA and CDG nominations.
Byrne will judge the Overall Winner of the International Design Award for 2021.
Swedish-born fashion activist and celebrity stylist, B. Åkerlund is known for her radical innovation. Åkerlund co-founded full-service public relations agency and exclusive showroom The Residency Experience with Kent Belden (founder of The Only Agency). The pair are industry veterans, accumulating more than 40 years’ experience in the fashion and entertainment industries and they work with the world’s best and most innovative performers and creatives.
The flamboyant stylist considers it her duty to nurture emerging designers. She moves freely between fashion, film, music and art, and has created iconic looks for the likes of Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Britney Spears.
Åkerlund and Kent Belden’s showroom initiated in 2019, The Residency Experience Award, which will be presented to a designer whose entry best exemplifies cutting-edge design. The winner, chosen by Åkerlund, will receive NZ$5,000 and
the opportunity to show up to five pieces of their work at The Residency Experience showroom in Los Angeles for three months.
Sir Richard Taylor
Sir Richard Taylor is the co-founder, CEO and Creative Director of conceptual design studio and physical effects manufacturing facility Weta Workshop. Taylor has won five Academy Awards for Weta Workshop’s work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 and was knighted in 2010. In 2012 Taylor was named New Zealander of the Year.
Sir Richard Taylor will present the Weta Workshop Emerging Designer Award; the winning designer receives NZ$6,000 plus the opportunity to complete an internship at Weta Workshop which includes flights from anywhere in the world and accommodation in Wellington for up to four weeks.
Learn more about the judging process
Finalist garments are selected and award-winners chosen through three rounds of closed judging. Closed judging means that the judges are aware of the garment name, and the inspiration behind the work of art, however the designers’ details are not disclosed. The judging panel comprises of World of WearableArt Founder and Resident Judge, Dame Suzie Moncrieff, and two guest judges from the worlds of art and fashion.
The first round of judging is known as First Judging, and it is a milestone event in the WOW calendar; over three days all entries are dressed on models in full hair and makeup for assessment by the judging panel including, Dame Suzie Moncrieff, Jeff Thomson, and Elisabeth Findlay. All entries selected at First Judging will feature in the WOW Awards Show that year. In the second and final stages, our guest judge, Sir Richard Taylor, and international judges, B. Akerlund, and Alexandra Byrne, will judge from the finalist garments for their relevant specific awards.
For more information on what the Judges will be looking for, click here.
Tickets are on sale now to see the 2021 finalist garments come to life on stage in New Zealand’s single largest theatrical spectacular.