A young Frenchwoman who has been seeking residency in New Zealand is one of the finalists in the upcoming World of WearableArt (WOW) competition.
Kelly Harrouk, 28, who lives in Raumati South, is a finalist in the Elizabethan Era section for a stunning armour-inspired garment.
Harrouk, who has been in New Zealand since November 2017, is from Lyon, France, where she studied fashion and design as well as costume.
She tried to work in the industry, but things didn't work out and she came to New Zealand as a tourist and fell in love with the country.
"I was here for a month travelling, then went back to France and realised I wasn't happy so came back to New Zealand six months afterwards with a working holiday visa and the aim of working in costumes.
"I started working with CKFilmdesign, based in Paraparaumu, and have been working for them as a costume and props technician since February 2018."
Aside from her day-to-day employment, she was keen to do something for herself and was inspired after attending a WOW show.
"I started making my entry in 2019 when they announced the sections.
"I choose the Elizabethan Era section because it was a new section and I have always been fascinated with the era.
"My entry was pretty much finished in February 2020, then I went to Europe with my partner, and when we came back there was lockdown and they cancelled the 2020 show.
"So I put my entry in a box and didn't really want to see it again because I was frustrated the show was cancelled.
"But later in 2020, it was announced the show would happen in 2021 so I took my entry out of the box and made a few changes, which I'm really happy about."
She became a finalist after a thorough selection process.
"My goal was to be a finalist, but I didn't think I would because people had two years to enter, there would be a lot more entries, and it was my first time entering."
And then she found out she was a finalist.
"I cried so much.
"My partner and I have been through so many negative things with my residency being declined last year, but this was so positive.
"I was so happy."
Harrouk, who is reapplying for residency, is looking forward to attending the show, which she's invited to.
"I've got one ticket for the awards night and then I'm going to see it again with work colleagues and my partner.
"I'll be going on my birthday too, which is pretty exciting."
A total of 102 finalists have been chosen from 19 countries and regions for the prestigious WOW show, which features various sections.
From September 30 to October 17, Wellington will host New Zealand's most spectacular theatrical stage production, showcasing the finalist entries from around the world, with an audience of over 60,000 people expected to attend.
The finalist designers will vie for awards and prizes across three recurring sections - Aotearoa, Avant-garde and Open - as well as three new sections - Architecture, Elizabethan Era and Monochromatic.
WOW founder and co-judge Dame Suzie Moncrieff said, "I feel incredibly privileged to witness such amazing and inspiring creativity from our designers.
"The entries are of an exceptionally high standard once again, and selecting award winners from such a strong group of finalists will not be an easy task for the judges.
"The skills, wide range of materials and techniques used in creating their work is breath-taking, and I look forward to seeing the garments individually choreographed in all their glory on the WOW stage.
"Our audience can expect to be wowed."
WOW competition director Heather Palmer said, "Despite the very obvious challenges of these times, WOW continues to connect with designers from every corner of the globe and we've seen this reflected in the extensive range of countries that we've received entries from again this year.
"I have been delighted to see our designers continue to push the boundaries of innovation and invention by creating works of art with extraordinary materials.
"The passion and determination shown by designers has been humbling, and makes us prouder than ever to be offering this unique creative platform for their works of wearable art to be seen."
WOW key dates:
September 5: Second judging
September 27: Final judging
September 30: Opening night
October 1: Awards night
October 17: Closing night
Tickets on sale now at www.worldofwearableart.com