It’s a wrap that is.

The creative fashion competition is done and dusted for 2021. But already the woollen thinking caps are on for next year.

More than 100 people attended the WoolOn expo workshops on Sunday at Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery in Alexandra, following the preview and catwalk events on Friday and Saturday nights at The Canyon, near Tarras.

WoolOn winning garments were displayed, with demonstrations of woolcraft techniques for spinners, felters, weavers and upcyclers.

WoolOn governance committee chairwoman Mary Hinsen was pleased with attendance numbers at the workshops which augured well for entry numbers next year. The newly revived show attracted 40 entries.

“They [the workshops] went really well. This was a first and we put them on to see how they’d go, and I’d say we would definitely do it again. And if it’s what’s wanted we’d plan to have a whole series of learning and support opportunities so that people are supported.”

WoolOn committee chairwoman Mary Hinsen. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON

Last week, the WoolOn committee received a $10,000 grant from Central Otago District Council, but with reservations from some councillors about the bail out because of the tardiness and quality of the application.

This week, the committee would be having a debrief to discuss what had worked and what could have been done better.

“From the feedback we got, the designers really valued being part of the dress rehearsal on Friday night. No other event gives them that opportuntiy to see how their entry translates to the catwalk, and how to show that garment the best.”

What could be improved on was giving the audience more details about the designer and design without revealing their name so that they could remain anonymous to the judges, she said.

The WoolOn 2021 supreme award first runner-up winner was Charlotte Hurley, of Alexandra, who dusted off her design skills in the newly-introduced re-purposed section.

WoolOn 2021 WoolOn runner up Charlotte Hurley. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON

The 35-year-old first-timer has a degree in fashion design, but has not been active in the industry since 2006.

She purchased an old hospital blanket and used the blue edging as a feature on the bottom of a gown and clutch bag.

“I thought is something I can make that is really unique and a huge contrast between a heavy blanket, which is something quite different than what people would use for an evening gown. I think people aren’t used to seeing that weight of fabric in evening dresses.

“I was just really proud to see it being modelled [by Tayla Fry] and when it won the category I thought, had absolutely no expectation at all.”

Her motivation was the sustainability of wool, and she was influenced by the Ice Queen from movie, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Judge Marnie Kelly, of Clyde textiles store Touch Yarns, had long been associated with the event throughout its various transformations. At the awards on Saturday night, she spoke about being a timekeeper for the New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships at Alexandra, 25 years ago.

“I swept the floor before Miss Wool could be held.”

She said the standard of this year’s show was on a par with any other high-quality fashion event across New Zealand.

“We [the judges] all felt the workmanship was really excellent, the creativity was out of this world and the designs were stunning.”

Simone Montgomery, of Port Chalmers, said she never expected to win. She was not a professional designer, it was simply a passion for her, she said.

Her entry “Safety Dance” pushed streetwear to an edgier, more modern place and was inspired by contemporary Japanese designers.

“My concept was safety on the streets. Tthat’s why I made it to convert to a sleeping bag.

“And the hat reflects a dystopian, totalitarian future.”

The supreme award second runner-up was Laurel Judd with her design “Tokyo”.

The Napier designer won the handcrafted, accessories and avant garde categories, and she also received the technique award.

“I’m just overwhelmed. I wish I had been able to be there.”

Ms Judd drew her inspiration for contemporary high fashion daywear and city chic from Asia.

An award was given for the best entry from a school pupil from across all categories, which was won by Maddie Wellbrock, of Masterton, with her ensemble “Rewa Rewa”.

Her striking coat was made of felted mohair, Romney and Corriedale wools, which she had dyed in a bathtub. Miss Wellbrock Maddie then re-felted, adding brightly dyed mohair to the mix.

The Mata-Au award for cultural interpretation was awarded to 7-year-old Alexandra Primary School pupil Sophia Hinsen with “Cold and Hot”, a cross-body bag she had needle-felted herself. Sophia said her design inspiration came from a project at school where they had to think about opposites.

“I like that opposites are just different parts of the same thing and you need both for life.

“It’s true for people too. We’re not all the same, but we all make up the world.”

Izzy Miscisco models Sophia Hinen’s Mata-Au award winning bag. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON

Dr Margo Barton, of Otago Polytechnic, said it was “extremely hard” to select a single winner in each category.

“In some sections it was a real problem for us, we saw such a high level across all entries.”

The judges encouraged designers to “keep learning, keep trying, and keep entering”.

Mrs Hinsen said putting on the event had been a leap of faith, but the result had surpassed all expectations.

“It has been a huge team effort.

“We couldn’t have done it without our hardworking committee, amazing community, designers, sponsors and everyone who helped make WoolOn 2021 such a success.”


Supreme award winner: Simone Montgomery, of Port Chalmers, Safety Dance

First runner-up: Charlotte Hurley, of Alexandra, From Ward to Wine

Second runner-up: Laurel Judd, of Napier, Tokyo

Novice: Nicola Donald, of Alexandra, Little White Dress

Accessories: Laurel Judd, of Napier, Phoenix Rising

Handcrafted: Laurel Judd, of Napier, Loop de Loop

Collections: Wilma Falconer, of Invercargill, Sashiko

Felted: Maureen McKenzie, of Balclutha, All Patched Up

Avant garde: Laurel Judd, of Napier, Chelsea Flower Show

Re-purposed: Charlotte Hurley, of Alexandra, From Ward to Wine

Under 23: Emma McRobie, of Queenstown, Indistinct (Collections section)

School designer award winner: Maddie Wellbrock, of Masterton, Rewa Rewa

Streetwear: Simone Montgomery, of Dunedin

Mata Au award: Sophia Hinsen, of Alexandra, Cold and Hot

Technique award: Laurel Judd, of Napier, Tokyo