24 Sep 2015

World of Wearable Art kicks off in Wellington

10:59 am on 24 September 2015

A gargoyle, a space probe, and a kind of sea creature called an "Elephish" have descended on Wellington.

It sounds like the start of a bad joke, but is actually World of Wearable Art 2015 - a show featuring 123 costumes made by designers from New Zealand and around the world.

They are big and bizarre, and made from almost every material imaginable, including chopsticks, oil containers - and even blood.

One of the show's directors, Michael Mizrahi, said it was unlike anything he had ever been part of.

"We are ready, but only just, the energy is enormous and nervous tension is running riot around here," he said.

"There's all manner of madness unleashed on the poor, unsuspecting audience."

One of the WOW directors.

Michael Mizrahi, a director of the World of Wearable Art show. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Makeup designer Michele Perry said there were plenty of quick changes, which involved wigs and costumes flying everywhere, during the show.

"It's all body painting, wigs, glitter ... there's a crazy circus of hair and make-up people getting everybody ready," she said.

Tari Kapea was modelling for the opening night last night and had five costume changes - a few of which caused her plenty of trouble.

"One of them is very, very hard because I can't bend my knees and have to wobble around the stage," she said.

"Another one is made of paper-mache clay, which is a very heavy material."

WOW make up designer.

WOW make up designer Michele Perry. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The show launched with a man sporting giant wings flying over the audience and landing on the stage.

It's not just about the costumes - there's smoke, fire, and a laser light show the rock band The Who would be proud of.

It's the biggest arts event in the country, and choreographer Ross Cormack said the theatrics complimented the costumes.

The event will play to more than 50,000 people over the next two and a half weeks and is a money-spinner for the capital. Last year it brought in more than $20 million.

WOW design on stage

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson