Quake refugee store wins WOW award

Cuba St store Emporium owner Jimi Smith with the boutique's winning window display garment.
Cuba St store Emporium owner Jimi Smith with the boutique's winning window display garment.

Christchurch earthquake refugee store Emporium Vintage Boutique's first year in Cuba St is turning out a winner.

James Smith and business partner Georgina Lewis relocated after their shop was destroyed and threw themselves into Wellington's culture by entering the World of WearableArt Awards window competition garment category in their first year in their new home.

''We had no idea how to do this so did some research online,'' Ms Lewis said.

What Mr Smith's girlfriend Gemma Hinchey came up with was a lacquered, sculptured outfit made from old sewing patterns that was ''a bit difficult to get through the door'', she said.

She said they had no idea what they will do with it once the WearableArt Awards are over.

The display had brought a lot of people into the store.

Ms Lewis said it had been extreme and busy but they loved it and the whole idea had fit right in with the atmosphere of Cuba St.

Brancott Estate World of WearableArt Awards Show founder and competition judge Dame Suzie Moncrieff believed the garment could have made it into this year's show.

 "The winning design was wonderful. It featured a beautiful colour palette and had a certain delicacy about it. Vintage materials were used but in a very futuristic way."

Iko Iko won the Best American Express window display and co-owner Thomasin Bollinger said the store's interactive display winner, where customers can put themselves into the design, was a joint effort of everyone involved with a bunch of late nights.

The design featured products sold in the store and they had people coming in eager to try it out.

''We love the WearableArt Awards.  It's like Christmas to us and we wanted to give something back,'' she said.

Dame Susan was impressed by the performance aspect of Iko Iko's display.

"Not only could shoppers interact with it, but it also put you in front of an audience - just like the show itself.''

A record 66 stores entered this year, and the displays are up until Sunday.

The Dominion Post