The Montana World of WearableArt™ Awards Show 2010

TSB Arena, Queens Wharf, Wellington

23/09/2010 - 03/10/2010

Production Details


Since the inaugural event in 1987, WOW® has spanned the 80s, 90s, and now in the eleventh year of the new millennium, WOW® will host an audience of over 42,000 to the event in September in NZ’s creative capital – Wellington.

Poetic inspiration and reflections of the environmental and societal burdens we place on ourselves are some of themes behind the walking wonders of WearableArt™ from New Zealand designers that will sparkle, spin and speak out at the Montana WOW® Awards. The Montana World of WearableArt™ Awards Show is in its 22nd year and is a world-renowned design and art event attracting ever-growing interest and amazing works of art from across the globe.

Gabrielle Hervey, WOW’s Managing Director said that despite having already introduced an additional show to the 2009 season, the demand for tickets was so strong this year we had to put our thinking caps on about what to do to meet the 2010 demand. The answer – a matinee show on Saturday October 2 at 2:00pm. It will be a huge day for the WOW cast and crew but with few tickets left three months out from the event we didn’t want to leave that many people disappointed.

Whilst the creativity of this year’s show is under tight wraps – the 2010 Montana WOW® Awards will be another breathtaking and completely fresh theatrical spectacular with Te Radar in the mix and including seven themed sections, with new inspirations stretching from the heights of the big top to deep within the pages of children’s books.

Tourism New Zealand’s Avant Garde Section brings the three rings to town with an “Inspired by the Circus” theme while the Gen-i Creative Excellence Section challenges designers to showcase “The Art of Light” with a garment expressing itself through LEDs, bulbs and holographic creativity.

A stunning exhibition of creative ingenuity, the Montana WOW® Awards Show brings to life artworks designed for the human form, showcasing a near-boundless display of imagination that builds on the anthropological aspiration to be more than we are. 

Highlights from the 2010 Montana WOW® story so far…

• The 191 garments chosen for the stage is the largest contingent ever 
• The level of artistry grows year on year with incredible materials ranging from hundreds of individually styled metal parts to 17,900 metres of yarn.
• One in three garments chosen for the show are from international designers across four continents, including a record 23 from India.
• WOW® designers range from dentists to architects, jewelers to sculptors, fashion designers to business analysts, students and retirees 
• Designers compete for $100,000 in prizes including the Supreme Award and the highly coveted Weta Award selected by Oscar-winning designer Sir Richard Taylor The 2009 Supreme Award was won by an international designer, David Walker from Alaska, who received more than $25,000 in prizes for his classical gown entry Lady of the Wood. 
With the initial selection complete the 2010 Montana WOW® Awards judging continues on two more occasions in September before opening night on 23 September at TSB Arena in Wellington. 

Joining WOW® Founder Suzie Moncrieff on the panel this year is New Zealand kinetic sculptor Phil Price, and former fashion designer Doris de Pont who is synonymous with the New Zealand fashion scene. 

“The judging process for WOW has been totally captivating,” says Phil Price. “It is a privilege to witness the sophistication of this art genre and the designers are really demonstrating the synthesis of elements that any good design requires. We are seeing really inventive solutions that are playful and intelligent.”

The choreography for the 2010 show will showcase 191 finalists who have been chosen to

compete in the Montana WOW® Awards Show from an array of more than 300 entrants from
all over New Zealand and the world. 

International designers from 25 countries submitted entries for the Montana WOW® Awards and 61 garments from Germany, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, and USA were selected to join local entries on the WOW® stage. 

The effort and inspiration that goes into the incredible garments that make it to the final stage of the Montana WOW® Awards is the backbone of the event. WOW® then creatively weaves these painstakingly crafted garments of a world’s worth of designers’ dreams and epiphanies into an eleven show season (including the newly released matinee at 2pm on Saturday 2 October) opening 23 September. This choreographed dramatic live performance is seen by an audience of more than 43,000 people in Wellington, New Zealand’s creative capital and the ultimate place to tell the global story of the weird and wonderful World of WearableArt™.

For more information, releases and imagery from previous shows go to the WOW® online media library at  

The Montana World of WearableArt™ Awards Show is an annual non-stop spectacular held in Wellington, New Zealand. Artists and designers from New Zealand and all around the world enter garments that are presented in a unique two hour show.

The 201o WOW Awards Show season
TSB Bank Arena, Queens Wharf, Wellington
Thursday September 23 to Sunday October 3.
Click here for Ticket & Show Information

Abigail Drane | Adam O’Hara | Alice Russell | Ashley Hale-Durham | Catherine Reid | Conor McCabe | David Hoskins | Eryn Street | Gemma Boyle | Hannah Bain | Hannah Candy | Hinanui Taputu | Hollie King | Ivy Rose Padilla | Jacinta Willcox | Jesse Finn | Jessie Maguren | Joanna Lees | Katty Lau | Jennifer Bateman | Lawrence Lugtu | Lizzie Callaghan | Louise Baker | Mariana Araiti | Pattarit Na Nagara (Mark) | Matt Mulholland | Ngahiriwa Rauhina | Patricia Butterfield | Phaedra Brice | Rebecca Trist | Rigie Abadies | Sam Bennett | Samuel McLeod | Sarah McMillan | Serena Daysh | Shauni Hannah | Skye Hay | Stephanie Jowett | Teresa Hoskins | Todd Williamson | Vernon Prime 

Less than the sum of its multitudinous parts

Review by John Smythe 25th Sep 2010

As we leave the venue a guy who has never seen a Montana World of WearableArt™ Awards Show before is releasing a gush of superlatives from his hitherto smacked gob. That’s how it is with Montana WOW® Show virgins. But somehow the more you see the less whelmed you tend to be.

The basic disconnect between creative and innovative design and performance spectacle remains. The show would not exist without the creations that give it its name, and vice versa. Yet the staging offers no opportunity for the audience to get a close up appreciation of the ingenuity and artistry involved. And without the themed sections, the production elements would be rather random.

Only previous study of the programme and a good memory (given they have dispensed with mini torches that allowed us to check the details en route) would allow us to appreciate that among the 26 entries in the Air New Zealand South Pacific Section, cable ties are integral to both Bev Goodwin’s Warrior Princess and Andi Regan’s Bikini Bikina, or that Nicole Linnell’s Tiare, which means emptiness and represents a wedding dress that “expresses goodbye to single life”, is made of wire, beads and condoms. And even then we’re in no position to check out exactly how these transformations have been achieved.

There is, however, a good complementarity between the parading of the creations and the performance element, directed by Tanemahuta Gray, choreographed by Taane Mete. It features Te Roopu Tahiwi O Te Whanganui-A-Tara, whose chanted poi dance bring mana in their role of Kaumaatua, and culminates in a troupe of boys doing an unaggressive, celebratory haka..

As paraded on stage the 12 playful entries (+ 7 exhibition garments) for the Mainfreight Duffy Books in Homes Children’s Section, themed around The Magic of Books, fare better than most. Kaye Hellyar’s dragon bursts from a book in A Bid for Freedom. Ann Skelly’s witch keeps making a more dramatic entrance from Spellbound’s enchanted forest. Norelle Kendrick’s colorful Toy’s Are Us! claims its space well, although we have to read the programme to know it is made from foam and 17,900m, of handknitted yarn.

The performance element here centres round a huge book lowered from the flies that opens to produce a pop-up castle as paper-clad figures come to life (a creation of show designer John Verryt, I take it). It’s a stunning effect. But what with kings, queens, knights, maidens witches and dancers in various configurations, all culminating in a prince kissing a frog to liberate the princess within, while the colourful entries parade around them, over-load anxiety and a fear of missing something special begins to undermine my enjoyment.

There is less clutter in the CentrePort Illumination Illusion Section: Float, Fly, Flowwhere UV light picks out the 14 moving creations (+ 2 exhibition parments). I particularly enjoy Karl Van Der Wat’s floating slinkies, Unity, Erna & Karl; Sue Cederman’s tumbling leaves in Autumn Wind; Paul Bowe’s ‘now you see them now you don’t’ Synchronised Grannies; and Sarah & Ian Nelson’s big-bottomed blue lady floating in a green duck ring: Wanna See My Wobbly Bits?  

The American Express Open Section – which has no thematic boundaries in order to encourage originality and innovation in concept, construction and materials – is introduced with a ‘huddled masses’ image: dancers clad in flesh-coloured underwear evoking naked bodies in concentration camps. I take it this is down to artistic director and principal choreographer Malia Johnson and I find their centre-stage action is disturbing in a way that detracts from the 40 paraded entries.

Promiscua Le Plus Grande from veteran entrant Mike Ward offered a contrast with its “Barnum & Bailie’s genetically, bionically, surgically & nutritionally enhanced steam punk hermaphrodite” (why isn’t there an award for most inventive title and description?). I was looking forward to seeing Eve Gilliland’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, evoking the witched from Macbeth but on the night, on stage, the armour-like construction of brass, steel, bronze, leather and crystal makes little impact (despite being one of the heaviest entered this year, which Gilliland says “is a reminder of the burden of evil.”).

A couple of dare-devil pole acrobats (not specified in the programme) do their thing in the auditorium to introduce the Tourism New Zealand Avant Garde Section: Inspired by the Circus. Here the 36 entries are augmented by lights evoking a Big Top, Pierrot-style dancers in a muddled choreography that sometimes suggests performing animals and otherwise just looks messy, a French cabaret singer, performing dogs dressed as mini-elephants (dislike) … This culminates in the pole boys descending from the flies to twirl on a flaming rope while faces are projected on huge white balloons. Spectacular, and fighting all the way with the parading entries – which nevertheless would be tedious on their own: thus the perennial dilemma. But again, more is less in this section.

Respite returns with a beautifully created illusion of dancing stick figure to introduce the Gen-i Creative Excellence Section: The Art of Light where the challenge is to “create a work of wearable art that enhances or alters its appearance when it self illuminates”. Only a few of the 16 entries work well, I feel, with Rebecca Wendlandt’s Belle de la Mer – a siren “clothed by adoring jellyfish” (organza, muslin and LEDs) being especially memorable.  It’s during this that some Aliens, defined by white strip light, land, prance about the stage then invade the auditorium.  

The 47 (+1) entries in the World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum Bizarre Bra Section are a lot to take in even though the dancer-models all wear the same skirt and dance in unison to a Carmen Miranda drag act accompanied by some rather humdrum South American partner dancing. Denied close-up inspection, three depicting the droops and sags of advancing age stand out: 48DD40Long by Suzanne Allen, inspired by Pam Ayres’ “I should have looked after me tits”; Time Waits for Nobody by Jeanine Oxenous & Jayne Broome, in which I could not see the Dali-esque melting clock on the crutch-supported right breast; and As Time Ticks By by Judith Clements & Anna McNeill, which more successfully uses the melting clock motif.

When the ZimboyZ acrobat troupe suddenly take the stage they earn great audience acclaim because we are in a position to appreciate everything they have to offer. This very long sequence also features Te Radar miming to Barry Manilow’s Copacabana’ and Vinyl Burns miming to ‘Quando Quando Quando’ (the Humperdinck version?) as the (unspecified) drag performer’s head-dress rises into an inverted tent.

Some arbitrary pyrotechnics bring the night to a climax and – echoing the finale of Slava’s Snow Show– some inflated fruit get tossed around the auditorium without achieving the elation of audience participation we felt at the St James last year.  

With so many good things happening in the show it seems curmudgeonly to be less than enthusiastic but as a stage show its patchy lack of cohesion renders it less than the sum of its multitudinous parts, except to those who have never seen anything like it before.

The winners may be found here.
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