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WOW Winners Revealed - Spotlight on Kiwi Success

30 Sep 2022
Over $185,000 in prizes, showmanship, high profile cameos and breathtaking designs - The World of WearableArt Award show didn't disappoint. Find out which New Zealanders led the charge.

Hawke’s Bay creative Kate MacKenzie has entered elite company.


Eight years after what she describes as the proudest moment of her career, MacKenzie has done it again, winning the supreme awards at the World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards for an impressive second time.


MacKenzie is among 21 award winners sharing in more than $185,000 in prizes in the 2022 WOW Awards Competition - with the show making its triumphant return to mark three weeks of creativity on display in Wellington.


88 finalist entries by 103 designers representing 20 countries and regions around the world are being represented in three recurring sections, Aotearoa, Avant-garde and Open, as well as three new sections in 2022: Architecture, Elizabethan Era and Monochromatic.


MacKenzie’s success comes from her garment Wanton Widow, which also claimed victory in the Open section. 


The Judging panel commented on her entry - “We are in awe of the designer’s resourcefulness in use of the vintage china cabinet and Singer sewing machine drawers. It perfectly captures what we mean when we say wearable art. It is refined, sculptural and tells a story.”


The finalists were selected by WOW Founder and resident judge Dame Suzie Moncrieff, designer and co-founder of Zambesi Elisabeth Findlay, and acclaimed New Zealand sculptor Jeff Thomson. To decide the winners, they were joined by International Guest Judge – award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne; The Residency Experience Award Judge – Swedish-born fashion activist and celebrity stylist, B Åkerlund; and Wētā Workshop Emerging Designer Award Judge – Co-founder, CEO and Creative Director of Wētā Workshop, Sir Richard Taylor.


WOW Competition Director Heather Palmer says, “We have been waiting for an incredibly long time to share the work of our 2022 finalist designers with the world and finally we can give each of the garments their moment to shine on the WOW stage.


“To see the passion, innovation and dedication of this year’s finalists is incredibly affirming and it is heartening to see the wearable art movement around the globe remains alive and well.”


Photo: Getty Images.


MacKenzie's eye-catching entry (above) completed a New Zealand 1-2 in the award rankings, with Fera Dei by Fifi Colston and Bruce Mahalski (below) declared the runner-up after sealing the Aotearoa category.


Photo: Getty Images.


Other local triumphs on the night include: Dinah and Mark Walker’s Little Electric Dress (LED) in the Wearable Technology Award (below): 


Photo: Getty Images.


Christopher Davis celebrated for Haerenga (Journey) winning the Sustainability Award (below):



And the New Zealand Design Award going to Aetatem Aureum: Elizabeth & Her Lady by Carolyn Gibson and Joelle Marsh (below).



The WOW factor at the awards show wasn’t just for the stunning outfits and showmanship.


Used to walking the corridors of power, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern instead walked the stage at TSB Arena to surprise the audience with her cameo - reminiscent of her predecessor and role model Helen Clark doing so 20 years prior.


Photo: Getty Images.


Ardern was wearing WOW veteran Dylan Mulder’s specially commissioned piece, Digitally Grown (above).


Mulder remarks “it has been an honour to create such a special garment for the Aotearoa section in the 2022 show.


“For me, it is a symbolic moment of regaining a sense of normalcy in my natural design flow where it shines best. A strong green light to shed resistance and continue projecting outwards, creatively.


“I found together with the creative team we naturally aligned in our values on wanting to celebrate New Zealand’s continued progression and re-emergence back into the international scene. To keep going and thriving as we do best from our corner of the world. A fantastic collaborative effort.”


The show itself has once again been nothing short of spectacular. Over 100 dancers, kapa haka performers (Ngāti Pōneke) and aerialists, as well as spectacular headline performances by New Zealand musicians Estère, and Sharn Te Pou held the crowd’s imagination captive.


Brian Burke, Executive Creative Director, and Malia Johnston, Show Director offered a statement: “Coming back to the live performance space in 2022, we wanted to celebrate artists using WOW as a platform and an opportunity to express their interests not only in design for the moving body but as a way to investigate their own sense of place and culture in the world.


“Dylan's sentiment of 'Digitally grown from the land' is a perfect summary about how we feel about growth and progress -  a collaboration of culture, design, technology and environment being a strong interest for the creative team leading us into the future. We wanted to encourage and celebrate People, Place and Technology and as a reminder that at the heart of what we do is where we come from.” 


WOW runs until 16 October.