Fashionistas take heed as ‘WearableArt’ goes global

Updated 26 December 2013

Fashionistas take heed as ‘WearableArt’ goes global

Fashionistas first scoffed at Suzie Moncrieff’s displays of bizarre bras and out-there attire, but 25 years on international designers are clamoring to be part of Wellington’s annual World of WearableArt show.
The event the New Zealander founded in the late 1980s features mind-bending costumes that use materials from finest silk chiffon to rusty kitchen utensils.
Models clad in spiked armor made of stainless steel mesh vie for attention with rainbow-hued paper jellyfish as bungee-jumping acrobats bounce from the roof, in an experience more Cirque du Soleil than fashion show.
“It’s art-based, not your average catwalk walk-up-and-down scenario,” Moncrieff tells AFP. “We create an amazing sense of theater to show off these incredible works of art that the designers have submitted.”
Moncrieff, already an institution in New Zealand with close links to the country’s burgeoning film industry, plans to take her World of WearableArt (WOW) vision onto the global stage, with Asia the first target market.
But first, the 60-something artist says, she wants to dispel the notion that WOW is simply a fashion gala with a few more brightly painted frocks than the average shopping center collection.
Moncrieff says WOW’s mission is to “take the art off the wall and put it on the human body.”
The designs — “these are not dresses,” she insists — are treated as mobile sculptures and compete in seven categories.
Around the costumes — 158 this year — Moncrieff’s team creates a two-hour stage show featuring elaborate sets, custom-made animation and about 2,000 performers.
The extravaganza runs for two weeks at an arena on the Wellington waterfront before the costumes are packed away at WOW’s museum in the South Island.
“Wearable art’s a really hard thing to explain, you take it off the wall, you put it on your body,” she says.
“People often don’t realize that it’s this huge theatrical performance. Even in this country, they sometimes still think that it’s walking down the catwalk, and that’s not something the average male is going to be interested in going to see.
“But they come along and they’re just blown away by what they see and end up telling their friends to go.”
Backstage, make-up designer Michele Perry oversees the finishing touches as her team works on dozens of dancers and circus performers in an assembly line of wigs, face paint and crystals, a process that takes three hours every night.
“Glam it up and when you’re finished, put some more glitter on — that’s our motto,” she jokes.
One of the performers will take the stage with a giant chrome slinky coiled around his body, while another wears a jewelled moose head, topped by huge red antlers fringed with gold filigree.
Backstage manager Leonie Trathen explains that many of the costume entries are not from professional designers.
Some, such as Gillian Saunders, have worked for up to two years on their creations. Saunders collected plastic tags from bread loaves and fashioned them into three multi-colored mini-skirts which feature in a 1960s-inspired routine.
“We owe it to the designers to get it right, so their works are displayed to their full potential,” says Trathen, who has been involved in WOW for 23 years. “We also manage to have a lot of fun. You see the same people year after year. It’s like a family.”
Past WOW entrants have gone on to careers with major fashion houses and in the film industry, particularly Wellington’s Weta.
The Oscar-winning design studio, which worked on blockbusters such as “Lord of the Rings” and “Avatar,” now sponsors its own category in Moncrieff’s show.
It’s a far cry from WOW’s humble beginnings in a leaky tent in the South Island town of Nelson, where Moncrieff staged the first show in a bid to drum up business for a gallery that was exhibiting her sculptures.
“I couldn’t sew a straight line,” she admits, “I had no business training and no background in event management but I thought ‘I can do this’.”
While the public was enthusiastic from the outset, Moncrieff said the fashion world was skeptical.
“They were scratching their heads thinking ‘who’s this crazy woman with her wearable art’,” she says. “But now we’re celebrated by the world’s fashion gurus.
Partnerships with organizations such as the Hong Kong Design Institute and the Fashion Design Council of India have raised WOW’s international profile, with the majority of entries this year coming from overseas for the first time.
For Moncrieff, a long-held ambition was to take WOW to the world, with Asia a natural starting point because of existing ties with the region. A small sampler staged in Hong Kong last year was a sell-out.
A traveling retrospective of WOW costumes from the past 25 years has attracted 320,000 visitors in New Zealand over the past 12 months and Moncrieff says she hopes to take a similar exhibition on the road in late 2014.
“That’s the beautiful thing about these designs, you don’t need language to understand them,” she adds.
“It crosses cultures. You can take it anywhere in the world and people will appreciate it.”
World of WearableArt runs through Oct. 6.

Demi Lovato steps out in Jordanian-Romanian designer after engagement

Updated 03 August 2020

Demi Lovato steps out in Jordanian-Romanian designer after engagement

DUBAI: American pop star Demi Lovato has been spotted championing a pair of sandals by Jordanian-Romanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi, who is famous for her signature flared heels. 

In a picture the star shared with her 89.7 million Instagram followers on Monday, the “Sorry Not Sorry” singer was seen wearing Muaddi’s glitzy Naima leather sandals in white during a romantic dinner date with her fiancé, actor Max Ehrich, at the celebrity hotspot Nobu in Malibu, California.

The two-time Grammy nominee matched the heels with a dusty rose velvet form-fitting minidress that had a low-cut neckline and cuffed sleeves.  


Date night at Nobu I love you @maxehrich - also shout out to @brianbonifassi for the pic!!!

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She accessorized her look, which featured a sleek low bun hairstyle, with a pair of golden hoop earrings and a glittery purple purse. 

The 27-year-old star announced her engagement last month on Instagram with a series of heart-warming images of her dreamy proposal.

The couple, who confirmed their relationship in May, celebrated their special moment by a beach in Malibu.

Lovato also shared images of her wedding ring by celebrity jeweler Peter Marco.

Muaddi, whose eponymous footwear label is designed in Paris and produced in Italy, has also been in the spotlight, with the likes of Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Dua Lipa and Hailey Bieber showing off their favorite pairs at a number of star-studded events since the launch of the brand.

The 34-year-old designer, who grew up in Italy, launched her eponymous footwear line in August 2018, approximately one year after departing from her role as co-founder and creative director of luxury footwear label Oscar Tiye.


Kylie @aminamuaddiofficial

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Just last month, the entrepreneur released a limited edition Fenty x Amina Muaddi footwear capsule collection in collaboration with singer-turned-entrepreneur Rihanna. 

Multi-hyphenate “Wild Thoughts” singer tapped Muaddi to design a collection of shoes for her luxury label Fenty back in December, the designer revealed in an interview with Footwear News.

The news wasn’t all that surprising, considering that Rihanna has been a longtime fan of Muaddi’s glitzy footwear.

The singer and beauty mogul would go on to be spotted wearing Muaddi’s designs on multiple occasions, including a trip to Barbados where she accessorized a long, green sweater dress from Jacquemus with a pair of strappy sandals by Amina Muaddi.


Rih & me

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