Third time’s a charm for WOW finalist


A Nelson woman has made the finals of the World of WearableArts awards for the first time after two previous knock backs, and says her success is a “long time coming”.

Claire Bywater is just one of seven designers from the Nelson region to be selected to appear on stage in this year’s show, which is now in its 28th year.

Of the 128 garments selected to take part in the awards show, half are from international designers.

Claire, 51, and her creation “Dreams of McQueen,” has been six years in the making, and is inspired by the late fashion designer, Alexander McQueen.

“The idea has been in my head since I fell in love with paper mache. I thought it would be fun to combine hard materials with fabric for a crazy take on the red carpet fashion world,” says Claire.

“Alexander McQueen used really unexpected materials in his avant garde work and had groundbreaking ideas.

“I can’t think how many hours in total have gone into this and I probably don’t want to. It becomes something of an obsession and the families of the WOW entrants should probably have their
own support group.”

Claire, who has previously taught at the Design and Arts College of New Zealand, says that she first heard about WOW while taking art classes in Christchurch, and she first entered back in 1999 with no success. She tried again in 2012 and her creation had some positive feedback, but ultimately still wasn’t selected. “After a shift to Nelson and some time off from teaching, there was something I had to do – have one more go at getting into WOW.”

Claire says she is feeling relieved to have finally been selected. “When the email arrived, I was home alone and in total disbelief as I’d readied myself for bad news. I had to read it over and again and then phoned my husband, children and friends, by which time it was sinking in,” she says. “I cannot wait to go to Wellington with my family and celebrate being part of the show.”