Christchurch sisters Natasha English and Tatyanna Meharry have made history by becoming the first two-time winners of the Supreme Award at the World of Wearable Arts.

The sisters, who began entering WOW in 2012, created their 2018 entry, WAR sTOrY, as a representation of the more than 120,000 New Zealand men and women who served in World War I. They began planning the garment in 2014, a year after winning their first Supreme WOW Award, and say the goal was to get on stage in 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of WWI.

The piece incorporates recycled objects including old army and household blankets, salvaged rimu from demolished houses, plastic toy soldiers, crushed red bricks and traded pieces of pounamu to create the garment.

"We wanted to include as many tangible memories as well, using recycled materials that have been either collected over the years, traded or salvaged to help imbue this art piece with memories for past, current and future generations," English says, adding that the weight of the memories and stories of the past pave the way for future generations of mokopuna to carry.


WOW founder and head judge Dame Suzie Moncrieff described WAR sTOrY as a garment that demonstrated an exceptional example of powerful storytelling realised through a work of art and flawless in its execution.

Along with two Supreme WOW Awards, the sisters have picked up four other awards including, in 2016, runner-up to the Supreme Award.

They were among designers from eight countries who were last night named as award winners at WOW's 30th anniversary show, which features 140 garments by 147 designers from 17 countries and regions.

Shell by Zhang Qiyao of Shanghai won the Student Innovation award.
Shell by Zhang Qiyao of Shanghai won the Student Innovation award.

Since its launch in 1987, WOW has grown to become the world's leading wearable art design competition with a stage show that attracts up to 60,000 people. This year, a record 17 countries and regions were represented across six categories or worlds: Avant-garde, Aotearoa and Open Sections, Under the Microscope, Reflective Surfaces and the biennial Bizarre Bra. There are also regional prizes and awards for first-time and student entrants.

Along with Dame Suzie, the 2018 judges were Margarita Robertson, creative director of fashion label NOM*d; Sam Gao, Weta Workshop art director and business development manager, Weta Workshop co-founder and CEO Sir Richard Taylor; Cirque du Soleil's Nathalie Bouchard and International Guest judge Mary Wing To.

The Wise Athena by lau Siu San and Cathy Sin Wei Chow from Hong Kong won the Reflective Surfaces section and the International: Asia Design award.
The Wise Athena by lau Siu San and Cathy Sin Wei Chow from Hong Kong won the Reflective Surfaces section and the International: Asia Design award.

WOW is on at the TSB Arena, Wellington until Sunday, October 14

WOW winners:

WAR sTOrY by Natasha English and Tatyanna Meharry (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Winner: Supreme WOW Award
Winner: Aotearoa Section
Ernst Haeckel's Bride by Nika Danielska (Wroclaw, Poland)
Runner Up: Supreme WOW Award
Winner: Under the Microscope Section

Mind the Synaptic Gap by Grace DuVal (Chicago, United States)
Winner: Dame Suzie Moncrieff Award
Feminine Hell by Xia Tian, Yang Mengtong & He Fangyu (Shanghai, China)
Runner Up: Dame Suzie Moncrieff Award

Foreign Bodies by Dawn Mostow and Ben Gould (Seattle, United States)
Winner: International Award: Americas Design Award
Winner: International Design Award

Underling by Gillian Saunders (Nelson, New Zealand)
Winner: Open Section

Uplifting by David Kirkpatrick (Waikato, New Zealand)
Winner: Bizarre Bra Section
Echoplex — Goddess of Reverb by Natalie Hutton (Melbourne, Australia)
Winner: Avant-garde Section

The Wise Athena by Lau Siu San & Cathy, Sin Wei Chow (Hong Kong, China)
Winner: Reflective Surfaces Section
Winner: International Award: Asia Design Award

Eye See you Fluffy Kōwhai by Tina Hutchison-Thomas (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Winner: New Zealand Design Award

Absinthium by R.R. Pascoe (Blue Mountains, Australia)
Winner: International Award: Australia and Pacific Design Award

Blue Star by Adam McAlavey (London, United Kingdom)
Winner: International Award: United Kingdom and Europe Design Award

Quantum by Annabelle Widmann (Santa Eulalia, Spain)
Winner: Cirque du Soleil Invited Artisan Award

Hide and Seek by Mingzhang Sun (London, United Kingdom)
Winner: First-Time Entrant Award

Shell by Zhang Qiyao (Shanghai, China)
Winner: Student Innovation Award

Something Fishy: A Man-Eater Double Feature by Wendy Moyer (San Miguel de
Allende, Mexico)
Winner: Sustainability Award

236 Maiden Lane by Lynn Christiansen (San Francisco, United States)
Winner: Wearable Technology Award

Spirit Bone by Guo Xiao Tong (Beijing, China)
Winner: Weta Workshop Emerging Designer Award