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WOW®’s North American exhibition debut in Seattle

Monday 4th July, 2016

Queues to get into WOW®’s North American exhibition debut in Seattle

World of WearableArt® (WOW®) has opened its first North American exhibition, with 900 people queuing to get into its opening night party at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

WOW®’s international exhibition showcases 32 award-winning garments selected from its world renowned design competition that fuses fashion and art.

On Friday 1st July the exhibition opened with a public party featuring aerialists, stilt walkers, interactive film, and live musicians. Founding Director Dame Suzie Moncrieff, who heads the creative team and co-curated the exhibition, is excited to share one of New Zealand’s artistic treasures with new overseas audiences.

“My dream has always been that WOW would be known the world over and people everywhere would have the opportunity to be inspired and delighted by it creativity. The World of WearableArt® is New Zealand’s largest single annual theatrical event and we are delighted to have the opportunity to show a selection of these astonishing designs to an American audience at the wonderful EMP Museum in Seattle.”

The WOW® competition is a magnet for creative talent that attracts entries from more than 23 countries. From this competition more than 500 garments have been carefully selected over the years and now make up an impressive historical collection, 32 of which have travelled half way around the world to now be seen at the EMP Museum.

The exhibition features three distinct sections: garments from the permanent collection; a workroom for visitors to design their own piece of wearable art; and an audio visual presentation of the annual WOW® Awards Show.

Jasen Emmons, EMP Museum Director, Curatorial Affairs, says the museum is thrilled to be the first venue in Continental North America to host the WOW® exhibition.

“The bold ideas represented in these incredible works of art are fearless, beautiful, and engage the imagination in a powerful way.”

The exhibition is on display until January 2, 2017 and is expected to remain on tour in the United States through 2019.

About EMP

EMP is a leading-edge, nonprofit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel popular culture. With its roots in rock ‘n’ roll, EMP serves as a gateway museum, reaching multigenerational audiences through collections, exhibitions and educational programs, using interactive technologies to engage and empower its visitors. At EMP, artists, audiences and ideas converge, bringing understanding, interpretation and scholarship to the popular culture of our time.

EMP is housed in a 140,000 square foot Frank O. Gehry-designed building. This spectacular, prominently visible structure has the presence of a monumental sculpture set amid the backdrop of the Seattle Center.


“Gothic Habit” worn shoulder to knee, a three-dimensional replica of a Gothic cathedral, by American designer Lynn Christiansen

“Persephone’s Descent,” a suit of armour made by Stuart Johnson, a New Zealand blacksmith and weapons maker for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy

“Born to Die,” a dress made completely of cable ties woven into a sculptural “vertebrae” to look like a fish skeleton, by design student, Guo Xia Tong from China

“Lady of the Wood,” a replica of a 17th-century ball gown made entirely of mahogany, lacewood, maple, and cedar, by Alaskan carpenter David Walker

“Ornitho-Maia,” a complex and ornately carved and embossed leather gown inspired by the ethereal protector of birds designed by Nadine Jäggi, New Zealand costume designer for films including Avatar, The Hobbit, and Prince Caspian

A special display of “bizarre” bras made of unconventional materials including kitchen utensils, a taxidermied hedgehog; and “aBRAcaplyse Now” which heralds the Mayan end of days and the civilization’s ancestral iguana God.


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