Lady of the Wood wins World of WearableArt crown

She's already wooed her home town, now Lady of the Wood has WOWed the world, stealing the crown at the Montana World of WearableArt awards last night.

The 18th-century-style ballgown, by Alaskan carpenter David Walker and made entirely of all-American timbers, was the first international entry to win the competition, which began 21 years ago in Nelson.

Sculptor Max Patte, one of the judges, said the dress, made from mahogany and lacewood with 52 strips of maple and cedar for the skirt and topped with a wig made of wood shavings, "works on every level original design and beautifully executed".

HAVING A BALL: Lady of the Wood , an 18th-century-style all-timber ballgown, took the top prize at the World of WearableArt awards.
ANDREW GORRIE/ The Dominion Post
HAVING A BALL: Lady of the Wood , an 18th-century-style all-timber ballgown, took the top prize at the World of WearableArt awards.

Walker has been making wearable art for 10 years, and has entered WOW for the past three years. In 2007, his Prehistoric Princess won Richard Taylor's Weta award for the garment that best crossed over between art and film.

Asked last night about winning the supreme award, he said: "I'm so numb. I wasn't even sure if I'd get a place." His prize includes $15,000 and $10,000 for international travel.

Lady of the Wood also won the wearable art show in the Alaskan city of Juneau this year.

More than 300 garments were entered in the first round of WOW this year, judged in Nelson in July. The 165 selected for the show, including 37 international entrants, make up an incredible mix of colour, texture and theme: a woman's dress opens to reveal a tea trolley, a man sails across the stage with a giant codpiece in the shape of a ship's bow, and a sinister creature made of 2000 rabbit tails glides near a black meteor made of a TV aerial and baby backpacks.

As well as the outrageous accoutrements, the audience was bedazzled with upbeat dance, flexing bodybuilders, a flying bird's nest, and camp cowboy dancers bedecked in silver tassels who exhorted the entire 3000-strong crowd to stamp their feet in the aisles.

There were more Wellington finalists than from any other city this year. First-time Wellington entrants Hayley May and Fiona Christie were runners-up to the supreme award with Second Skin, resembling a reptile shedding its skin.

A free public WOW show will be staged from 1pm to 1.30pm at Frank Kitts Park today.

Winners:

Supreme: Lady Of The Wood, David Walker, United States.

Runner up: Second Skin, Hayley May and Fiona Christie, Wellington.

First time entrant award: Lagarus Ovatus En Masse, Catherine Anderton, Wellington.

Special awards:

Student design: Bound, Gina Digirolamo and Lindsey Eisentraut, United States.

Runner up: Multi-Plug, Ragini Ahuja and Rishabh Rhode, India.

Sustainability: Queen Adelaide, Emma Whiteside, Wellington.

International: Saddle Up, Mary Wing To, United Kingdom.

Runner up: Screen Play, Amy Jean Boebel and Sue Hobby, United States.

Weta: American Dream, Sarah Thomas, Timaru.

Runner up: Wanderer, Sue Cederman, Motueka.

WOW factor: Firebird, Susan Holmes, Auckland.

Section winners

Children: The Dandelion Clock, Tracey Koole, Auckland.

Runner up: My Big Bloomer, Paula Rowan, Wellington.

Commended: Miro, Miro, Quite Contrary, Norelle Kendrick, Nelson.

Illumination illusion: Into Thin Air, Marie Gant Roxburgh, Christchurch.

Runner up: Wanderer, Sue Cederman, Motueka.

Commended: Psychedelic Symphony, Janice Elliott, Christchurch.

Man unleashed: Sir Lazyboy, Cassandra Bowe, Nelson.

Runner up: Colour Blind, Dinah & Mark Walker, Auckland.

Commended: Da Vinci's Dandies, Heather Wallace, Wellington.

Open section: American Dream, Sarah Thomas, Timaru.

Runner up: Lagarus Ovatus En Masse, Catherine Anderton, Wellington.

Commended: DaVina, Frank Strunk III, United States.

South Pacific: Rock On In The Shadowlands, Janet Bathgate, Nelson.

Runner up: Tikini, Gillian Saunders, Nelson.

Commended: Tidal Traveller, Rita Schrieken, Paraparaumu.

Avant garde: Lady Of The Wood, David Walker, United States.

Runner up: AM I I AM, Rodney Leong, Auckland.

Commended: Saddle Up, Mary Wing To, United Kingdom.

Creative excellence: Second Skin, Hayley May & Fiona Christie, Wellington.

Runner up: Behind Closed Doors, Kathryn Preston and Angie Robinson, Christchurch.

Commended: Screen Play, Amy Jean Boebel and Sue Hobby, United States.

The Dominion Post