You will experience 70 World of WearableArt garments in our WearableArt gallery. Many are award-winning creations. The majority are from our last season, while others are unforgettable artworks from earlier shows. The entire exhibition is changed in April and November each year. The spectacular and highly-theatrical WOW® performances, held in Wellington every spring, started right here in Nelson in 1987 with a single evening show in a country cottage.
That show and this design competition was the passionate dream of a local sculptor, Suzie Moncrieff, who encouraged her creative peers to create artworks to be worn on the human body.
Every year since, the realisation of that dream comes from thousands of creative people, all over the world, designing wearable art to earn a role in an unforgettable, choreographed performance of dance and music, while vying for prestigious awards and more than $165,000 in prizes.
Hundreds of entries arrive at WOW® in Nelson every autumn, in time for the show selection process. Designers create their garments for categories ranging from wearable art for children, to breath-taking Avant Garde and Open Section garments; wearable art inspired by flora, fauna and the cultures of the South Pacific, to garments aiming for recognition in Creative Excellence, Costume and Film, Man Unleashed and the Bizarre Bra™ categories.
From humble beginnings in 1987 as a promotion for a rural art gallery in Nelson, New Zealand, few would have imagined how this ingenious idea would develop into an icon of New Zealand creativity. This fresh idea had never been done before, and the result was more than a promotion; it was a mesmerising unforgettable performance. A new way to experience art and fashion was born and Dame Suzie Moncrieff called it WearableArt™.
Each year a unique show is developed and staged. Every WearableArt™ entry is individually choreographed. The show is renowned for its amazing lighting, special effects, music and dance. It is a universal experience that unfolds before the audience, touching every sense and evoking a variety of emotions. There is no narration, no explanation and no language barriers making for a universal experience.