Designer returns to WOW awards

13:04, Jul 22 2014
Helen Millen
METASTASIS: World of Wearable Arts finalist Helen Millen at her home in the Marlborough Sounds in this file shot.

Marlborough Sounds woman Helen Millen hopes to wow the World of Wearable Arts judges at this year's show with her garment titled "Metastasis".

Millen, 58, of Linkwater, was named a WOW finalist last week for the fifth time. She was a finalist in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2012 as well.

Her garment will be shown in the open section at the show in Wellington during September. The winners will be announced on September 26.

While she was unable to provide The Express with a photo of her garment due to competition rules, Millen described it as a wired one-piece garment showing the spread of cancer.

"It's about how cancer is on the increase and how it spreads and how I think that a lot of technology, the wireless technology, is going through us and it could be something to do with cancer."

Millen said the garment also showed her journey. "I have cancer so it's also about my journey and I think once you are on the journey, every second person you speak to is on the journey, too."


Millen was diagnosed with uterine cancer last September. "I was working on this before I got it. I was thinking about the interconnection with cancer and technology," she said.

She believed cellphones, computers and microwaves were all contributing to cancer.

"I wanted to produce something that showed this."

It had taken almost two years to create the design for her latest WOW entry.

She put "well over" 2000 hours into creating her design out of recycled wire from old televisions, computers and printers, she said.

"It's quite a process and it's hard on your arms and hands."

The most challenging part was making the garment into a one-piece suit and working out how to get it on and off, she said.

Millen was looking forward to the show in September, but in the meantime would continue running her business, designing eco textiles from merino and silk.

The Marlborough Express