By LYNDA VAN KEMPEN
The WoolOn event stitched together this year was “on another level”, organisers say.
It was held in a new venue – an industrial building in Alexandra – with a new committee at the helm.
A public meeting last year supported the event being separated from the annual Blossom Festival and becoming stand-alone.
Because of the timing of that decision, the event was not staged last year.
Audiences had two chances to view the 32 WoolOn garments entered in this year’s contest. A “first look” show on Friday night attracted about 200 people and the gala evening on Saturday, where award winners were announced, drew a capacity audience of about 450.
Committee chairwoman Clair Higginson said she received great feedback about this year’s show.
“People seem to be saying the event has gone to another level with the quality of the garments entered and the vibe of the new venue.”
WoolOn was started 14 years ago as part of the New Zealand Merino Shears, to showcase the use of wool in fashion.
The 2017 judges were senior lecturer in the Otago Polytechnic School of Design, Simon Swale, hairdresser and fashion designer Jaimee Smith and one of WoolOn’s founders, Deirdre Hore-Mackenzie.
Mr Swale said the standard of entries was “phenomenal” which made the judges’ job difficult.
The supreme winner – Gore designer Viv Tamblyn’s A Touch of Copper – stood out for its design, craftsmanship and use of materials.
Ms Hore-Mackenzie said the evolution of the awards over more than a decade was amazing.
“The most important thing is to see where WoolOn has come to, from its humble beginnings in the Molyneux Stadium, to this wonderful venue,” she said.
The awards’ major sponsor was Rural Women New Zealand and national president Fiona Gower said it was a privilege to be involved. She paid tribute to all the volunteer hours of work which had gone into the event.
Mrs Tamblyn, who has been a regular entrant in the contest, said she was “blown away” by winning the supreme award and the streetwear section with the same garment. It comprised an oversized vest, hand-knitted in 100% wool, teamed with high-waisted woollen trousers. The outfit had touches of copper paint and was inspired by the resurgence of copper homeware accessories.
were: Under 23 Emerging Designer: Kimberly Ramsey (Queenstown) End of the Beginning; Handcrafted: Daphne Randle (Alexandra) Tyla Pearl; Felted: Heather Kerr (Wanaka) Just Alice; Collections: Daphne Randle Patterns in Paua; Avant Garde: Laurel Judd (Napier) Hanging Gardens and Special Occasion: Maureen McKenzie (Alexandra) Natural Beauty
Highly commended: Street Wear: Erana Kaa (Marton) Hine Ukaipo; Handcrafted: Louise Cook (Hamilton) Don’t Tassel Me; Felted: Lisa Martinez (Rotorua) Metamorphosis; Avant Garde: Debbie Leung (Hong Kong) Viva Pompoms and Special Occasion: Debbie Leung Rosy Romance.