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10 Questions about the World of WearableArt Show

The World of WearableArt Show (WOW) is the world's leading wearable art design competition. It culminates with an incredible show performed in Wellington each year in September/October.

As with every rendition of WOW, you will be invited to explore the beauty and grandeur of the worlds of Aotearoa, Avant-garde and the Open section.

Here at MoaTours, we have been running our small group tours to WOW since 2006 and have come to know the Awards show pretty well over that time.

Below are the top ten questions people ask us about the World of WearableArt Show.

We also look at the options for travelling there and why a small group tour with MoaTours World of WearableArt Show tour is one of the popular options.

1. What is the World of WearableArt Show?

The World of WearableArt (WOW) is the leading wearable art design competition in the world.

Each year designers from all over the globe create garments to enter the WOW competition. It culminates with a stunning show performed in Wellington each year in September/October.

Garments are made from materials ranging from recycled bike tyres, rope, plastic and latex through to the cutting-edge high-tech new materials used in science and technology. Don’t miss out on this world class, dramatic show where imaginations run wild.

2. When did the World of Wearable Art Show start?

Creator and brainchild of this incredible concept is Nelson painter and sculptor Dame Suzie Moncrieff. In 1987 she wanted to promote a rural art gallery so came up with the idea to take art off the walls and make it wearable.

With prize money of $1000 the entries started rolling in, although it took a bit of explaining that she wanted more than the colourful knitwear that was seen as the height of 1980s fashion!

From its humble beginnings and an audience of just 200 locals at a one-night fundraiser, this international phenomenon began a journey that saw it outgrow its hometown of Nelson, and move to Wellington, the country’s cultural capital, where it is now New Zealand’s single largest annual theatrical production.

Read more about the history of the World of WearableArt Show here.

3. What is the WOW Show about?

Today an audience of over 60,000 descends on Wellington each year with the show running over a three-week period. Each year the show is a themed two-hour spectacle of wearable art modelled with music and dance. 

The show has incredibly high production values, with sophisticated lighting and stage technology, culminating in an event that is part theatre, part fashion spectacle, part art extravaganza, and a whole lot of "wow"!

The genesis for the show is the annual WOW competition, which attracts over 300 designers from New Zealand and overseas including UK, USA, Australia, India, Thailand, Israel, Sweden, Fiji, Netherlands, Canada, China, Indonesia and Germany.

Many designers work in creative fields such as film, fashion and art. Others entrants may be amateur designers, while in their day-to-day lives they might be professional doctors, teachers, welders, and boatbuilders. Basically, anyone can enter, which is one of the reasons the garments are so extraordinary.  

There are 33 prestigious awards, more than $180,000 in prize money, and a sought-after work-placements at Weta Workshop in Wellington and a residency opportunity in Los Angeles.

With three rounds of intensive judging, every costume is evaluated based on its originality, creativity, innovation and construction. The designers remain anonymous throughout the entire process, with the judges given just the name of the garment and a brief on its inspiration.

4. Who were the past WOW winners?

WOW 2018 winning design WAR sTOrY Natasha English Tatyanna Meharry
WOW 2018 runner up design - Ernst Haeckels Bride Nika Danielska
World of Wearable Art Awards 2018 Supreme Winners & Runner Up

On the left, the 2018 Supreme WOW Award Winner - WAR sTOrY by Natasha English & Tatyanna Meharry, New Zealand

On the right, the 2018 Supreme WOW Award Runner Up - Ernst Haeckel’s Bride by Nika Danielska, Poland

2017 WOW winners

First-time entrant Rinaldy Yunardi won the Open Section of the 2017 awards and then also took away the Supreme Award. His garment, “Encapsulate”, is shaped like a capsule in two halves and is made from plastic ropes and LED lights. Yunardi was inspired by the universe being a well-ordered whole, encapsulating a system of thought, reason and emotions. He was one of only a few designers to enter two garments in 2017 - his other garment, “Cosmos” won the Avant-garde Section.

Image courtesy of World of WearableArt®. Garment: Cosmos, Rinaldy Yunardi, Indonesia
Image courtesy of World of WearableArt®. Garment: Encapsulate, Rinaldy Yunardi, Indonesia
Image courtesy of World of WearableArt®. Garment: Refuse Refuge, Grace DuVal, United States
WOW Awards Show 2017 Winners

On the left: Supreme Award, Image courtesy of World of WearableArt®. Garment: Encapsulate, Rinaldy Yunardi, Indonesia.

Middle: Avant-garde Award, Image courtesy of World of WearableArt®. Garment: Cosmos, Rinaldy Yunardi, Indonesia.

Right: Runner-up to the Supreme Award, “Refuse Refuge” by Grace DuVal from Chicago. It was also winner of the Sustainability Award. She used bicycle inner tubes and spokes pulled from the trash of Chicago bicycle shops to create an alien, warrior woman. Image courtesy of World of WearableArt®. Garment: Refuse Refuge, Grace DuVal, United States

Image courtesy of World of WearableArt®. Garment: The Exchange, Tatyanna Meharry & Natasha English, New Zealand.
WOW Awards Show 2013 Supreme Winner - The Exchange, Tatyanna Meharry & Natasha English, New Zealand

5. Have there been any New Zealand winners of WOW?

New Zealand designers generally make up half of the finalists, with many winning awards across all the categories. Recent big award winners were Gill Saunders from Nelson who won the Supreme Award in 2016 with her garment Super Nova.

Christchurch-based sisters, Tatyanna Meharry and Natasha English, won the Supreme Award in 2013. Their two-garment entry “The Exchange” is a contemporary portrait of the Treaty of Waitangi, with the dual garments being made from ceramic feathers and coins. The garments portray the ongoing acts of cultural assimilation through the exchange and realisation of gifts and promises.

Runner-up in 2013 was also a New Zealander from Nelson, Peter Wakeman. His garment, “Chica under Glass” was awarded the Avant-garde Award and runner-up to the Supreme Award.  

6. How much are WOW tickets in 2023?

Ticket Type Price
Stageside Experience NZD $299
Platinum NZD $229
A Reserve NZD $149
B Reserve NZD $99
C Reserve NZD $59

You can see more information on ticket types on the World of WearableArt Show Ticket Info page.

7. What are the 2023 WOW show dates and times?

Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

20 Sep 2023
7:30 pm

21 Sep 2023
7:30 pm

22 Sep 2023
7:30 pm
Awards Night
23 Sep 2023
7:30 pm
24 Sep 2023
5:00 pm
27 Sep 2023
7:30 pm
28 Sep 2023
7:30 pm
29 Sep 2023
7:30 pm

30 Sep 2023
1:30 pm
7:30 pm

01 Oct 2023
1:30 pm
7:30 pm
04 Oct 2023
7:30 pm
05 Oct 2023
7:30 pm
06 Oct 2023
7:30 pm
07 Oct 2023
1:30 pm
7:30 pm

08 Oct 2023
1:30 pm

Final show

8. Are there any VIP packages to WOW?

VIP packages are available on a limited number of nights: 21 September (the opening night), 22 September (the awards night), 27, 28, 29 Sep, 04 Oct, 05 Oct and 9 Oct. Availability may change over time so please check the WOW ticket website for the latest.

A World of WearableArt VIP table booking includes complementary glass of bubbles on arrival, a pre-show dining experience and entertainment while dining, a selection of wines and beverages, stage side seating for the awards show and a souvenir programme.

VIP Table cost NZD $4790 + GST for a table of 10, or $479 + GST for an individual seat (excluding the above-mentioned beverage package).

9. What is the best way to get to the WOW Show?

There are two main options you can consider. The first option is to organise separate flights and accommodation. Flights will set you back roughly $60-$160 per person for an Air New Zealand flight and accommodation in Wellington can vary anywhere from $200-$350 per night and will be considerably more at the time of the show.

The second option is to take an organised tour which includes accommodation and tickets to the event. MoaTours runs World of WearableArt Show tours in September/October which include all transport from Auckland, accommodation, meals and Platinum tickets to the event ensuring that you will have some of the best seats in the house. With a MoaTour you will also explore the beautiful countryside and enjoy the tranquility of Hawke's Bay after the buzz of Wellington. With many beautiful gardens to visit such as and Gwavas historic homestead and Moondance Manor with three private lunches along the way, this is an outstanding tour full of entertainment, gardens, food and delight.

10. Where is the World of WearableArt Show held?

The World of WearableArt Show take place in the TSB Arena, in Central Wellington.

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