Fashion Tribe

The fantasy world of WOW

October 2nd, 2015

Bishop Museum will be the first museum in the U.S. to host the spectacular New Zealand-based “World of WearableArt,” or WOW, exhibition opening Oct. 3 and continuing through Feb. 1 in the Castle Memorial Building.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comNew Zealand artist Nadine Jaggi's "Ornitho-Maia," (The Bird Mother), protector of feathered creatures, interpreted in a costume of wet-moulded, embossed and carved leather. This was the winner of the 2008 Supreme WOW Award and first place finisher in the 2008 South Pacific Section of the WOW, World of WearableArt international competition.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

New Zealand artist Nadine Jaggi's "Ornitho-Maia," (The Bird Mother), protector of feathered creatures, interpreted in a costume of wet-moulded, embossed and carved leather. This was the winner of the 2008 Supreme WOW Award and first place finisher in the 2008 South Pacific Section of the WOW, World of WearableArt international competition.

The exhibition fusing fashion and art will spotlight 32 award-winning garments from the international design competition hosted by WOW, which attracts hundreds of entries from fashion designers, artists, costume makers and other artisans charged with the mission to take “art off the wall and adorn the human form.”

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the exhibition, with New Zealand-based artists Gillian Saunders and Beth Kopf, who shared their enthusiasm for art-making. Saunders' piece "Inkling," has been used for the promotional materials, so I was looking at that piece for months, wondering what kind of person comes up with such a dramatic form, which she says was based on her fascination of old-time circuses and their tattooed women. With the co-mingling of blood and ink, she wondered about the ratio that might cause the ink forms to spring to life. I was surprised to find her to be so soft-spoken, given the power of the piece. But of course art allows those who prefer to keep a low profile, to express ourselves powerfully in other ways.

The exhibition is amazing and I urge anyone with a love of artistry, fashion and creativity to see it. I was able to see Alexander McQueen's "Savage Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute and this is comparable in evoking that sense of dark, avant grade beauty and stellar technique. Truly world class.

Looking at the costumes on manikins is one thing, but a film screening in an alcove shows that these pieces are indeed wearable art. The film shows the works presented in a fashion show filled with acrobats and performers who bring the pieces to fantastic life. The fashion shows take place very fall, next year running Sept. 22 through Oct. 9 in New Zealand.

The exhibition is made possible by grants and funding from New Zealand's government which is to be commended for putting money behind the arts. And the staff of the Bishop Museum encourages Hawaii's creatives to participate by entering future WOW competitions. People will be able to submit their names and email addresses to receive entry packets.

Plus, Halloween is coming up and you may find some inspiration here!

When asked which costume they would want to wear most, Beth Kopf mentioned New Zealand artist Sarah Thomas's "American Dream," above, and Gillian Saunders admitted to feeling the woman warrior pull of New Zealand artist Stuart Johnson's "Persephone's Descent," below.

When asked which costume they would want to wear most, Beth Kopf mentioned New Zealand artist Sarah Thomas's "American Dream," above, and Gillian Saunders admitted to feeling the woman warrior pull of New Zealand artist Stuart Johnson's "Persephone's Descent," below.

"Persephone's Descent" depicts the mythological heroine's descent into the Underworld, wearing the armor of Hades. This work by Stuart Johnson was the 2002 winner of the Supreme WOW Award, the First Time Entrant Award, and first place finisher in the 2002 Reflective Suraces Section of the WOW, World of WearableArt international competition. An armourer, blacksmith and jeweler, he was working in the weapons department at Weta Workshop, making weapons for the "Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy while developing his design.

"Persephone's Descent" depicts the mythological heroine's descent into the Underworld, wearing the armor of Hades. This work by Stuart Johnson was the 2002 winner of the Supreme WOW Award, the First Time Entrant Award, and first place finisher in the 2002 Reflective Suraces Section of the WOW, World of WearableArt international competition. An armourer, blacksmith and jeweler, he was working in the weapons department at Weta Workshop, making weapons for the "Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy while developing his design.

p align="left">One of several bras in the show, this one featuring taxidermy budgerigars. I was assure no animals were killed for this showcase. Another bra featured roadkill hedgehogs, beautifully preserved so they look alive.

One of several bras in the show, this one featuring taxidermy budgerigars. I was assure no animals were killed for this showcase. Another bra featured roadkill hedgehogs, beautifully preserved so they look alive.

p align="left">Materials are manipulated so it's hard to guess the materials used in the designs. I thought these pieces were made of felt pieces, but they are actually ceramic.

Materials are manipulated so it's hard to guess the materials used in the designs. I thought these pieces were made of felt pieces, but they are actually ceramic.

p align="left">I thought Gillian Saunders "Inkling" was carved from wood, but it is actually shaped from EVA foam, or yoga mat material. The piece grew out of her fascination with tattooed women of old-fashioned circuses, and the idea of ink co-mingling with blood in such an overpowering ratio that the ink takes on a life of its own.

I thought Gillian Saunders "Inkling" was carved from wood, but it is actually shaped from EVA foam , or yoga mat material. The piece grew out of her fascination with tattooed women of old-fashioned circuses, and the idea of ink co-mingling with blood in such an overpowering ratio that the ink takes on a life of its own.

"In the Op" by Ling Lai Kit Ling of Hong Kong, took second place honors in WOW's 2012 Avant Garde Section.

"In the Op" by Ling Lai Kit Ling of Hong Kong, took second place honors in WOW's 2012 Avant Garde Section.

The general public can put their creativity to work in costuming paper dolls with materials to be provided by the museum. The finished dolls will be put on a wall for a show of their own. Here's one example.

The general public can put their creativity to work in costuming paper dolls with materials to be provided by the museum. The finished dolls will be put on a wall for a show of their own. Here's one example.

The exhibit will be open during Bishop Museum hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays. Visit www.bishopmuseum.org for more information.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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