By Geoff Vause
If a four-year-old’s crayons and magic markers could come to life, the World of Wearable Arts would be one of the results.
This stunningly slick show presents with an organic, almost amateur flavour and childlike innocence, a playground frolic in a fantastic world, a fearless effort of wild imagination usually only achieved by the very young.
The inspired use of lighting ebbs and flows across the cloverleaf stage, drifting seamlessly like curtains to reveal then hide the hundreds of cast and 163 gobsmacking garments nobody will be wearing to New World in the morning to pick up the bread and milk.
A huge animatronic tiger voiced by the throaty Jemaine Clement cleverly linked segments of the show, and each costume made several appearances, paraded by numerous hidden sections of revolving stages.
Exaggerated hips and trailing trains were a consistent device for designers in the struggle to find cloud nine and remain simpatico with the human form while chasing a share $165,000 prize money. The big winner is Wellington as about 60,000 people spend about $30 million visiting for the internationally recognised design competition.
Inevitably, some of that flows into Wairarapa, although organisers said for the first time in some years there was no entry from this region among the finalists.
The WOW started in 1987 to promote the Williams Higgins Gallery, a small art space near Nelson run by painter and sculptor Suzie Moncrieff. Now it’s New Zealand’s largest and most technically complex theatrical production.
The winning garments show to a further 40,000 people at the World of WearableArt and Classic Car Museum in Nelson, and an exhibition taking many of the award-winning garments from previous shows around the world is now in the United States.
Even as it advances onto the world stage, the show and the garments keep the playful, dress-up world of children. It’s typically Kiwi, number eight wire and bits of fence batten, magic markers and stick on jewels, dowel and recycled leather, scraps of this and that – some years back Hokianga’s Alan Gale took $10,000 for his Double-breasted Suit Case made from five old leather suitcases.
The show runs until October 9 at TSB Bank Arena.
Celebrate the silliness.