Delightful show of Raglan’s creativity also something of a trial for judges

Pity the judges for a show as eclectic as Raglan Art To Wear.

As Wanda Barker – one of four judges who’ve done the job for years now – told a packed town hall on Saturday night, selecting the winners is not only a delight but also an impossibility.

In the end however there could be no controversy over their biggest decision as on the night the same entry – a stunning black outfit made of old video cassette tapes entitled ‘I’ve Always Wanted To Be In Films’ – picked up both the supreme and the people’s choice awards.

The show stealer was the work of flamboyant hairdresser-from-home Gordon Thomas, a recent Raglan arrival who’s spent some time in Canada creating recycled wearable art.

But it was youthful runners-up Charlie Irvin and Sven Seddon who longtime Art To Wear co-ordinator Jean Carbon picked out as “the epitome of what the show is all about”.

The two area school teens have entered the biennial event every year it’s been held, Jean said, but this was the first time they’d put their heads together.

And what they’d come up  with – Project Orbiter, an imaginative cyber-helmeted entry in the competition’s Time Travel category – confirmed Jean’s belief that creativity is alive in our community.

“It shows in our children,” she said.

Talking of the difficulties judging such an event, Wanda pointed to the diverse range of competitors “from littlies through to oldies” and the fact there were both “whanau and individual” entries.

The two sellout Saturday shows at 2pm and 7pm kicked off with some haunting harmonies from the five-strong, all-women local group Wandering Dulcet which also performed recently at the Hamilton Fringe Festival.

Then came a procession – in the first category, Middle Earth – of forest fairies and elves, a mythical deer, a huntress clad in leather and fur, Grandmother Oak, a nuclear worm with red flashing eyes and Gollum himself from JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’.  Gollum’s scuttling along the catwalk won Kipp Parker the top child model award.

A larger-than-life Red Riding Hood and a pint-sized child representing Ember of Hope were among finalists in this year’s featured colour category, Scarlet Fever.

Raglan Childcare – which won the Wild By Nature category for children up to 13 years – paraded an array of littlies in cloaks, capes and wings among a mass of other wildly colourful contenders from forest and sea. The entry also took the children’s supreme award.

Meanwhile in this year’s recycled section, On the Re-Bound, there were the likes of a bizarre bra made of miniature treasure chests by Meg Wilshier from Tamahere – a comment on breast cancer and the need to treasure your chest – and an elegant pantsuit encircled with vacuum cleaner hoses designed by regular Art to Wear standout  Liz Hosking.

An outfit entitled Aroma Armor and made by another familiar Art To Wear face –  Suzanne Prinz – of 100 silvery aroma sealed coffee bags from Raglan Roast went on to take third in the supreme awards.

The fifth and final section, Time Travel, saw The Travel Wife on the catwalk with her suitcase of “positive baggage” and a young female warrior – vaguely reminiscent of Xena from the American TV series – strutting her stuff in an outfit of orange-and-black ceramic segments held together with bicycle inner tubing.

Sven and Charlie’s Project Orbiter entry and the ‘I’ve Always Wanted To Be In Films’ outfit worn by Reeve Harry-Wright that edged them out for the supreme award were also part of the popular Time Travel category.

Charlie, along with Dekota Johnson who modelled Treasure Your Chest, picked up the top adult model award.

A red carpet live stream to the Old School in Stewart Street – where there was the added attraction of complimentary bubbles and music – saw this year’s evening show beamed simultaneously to another audience beyond the 150-odd who crammed the town hall.

“It was a fantastic first time … despite a couple of small technical glitches,” Jean enthused of the experiment aimed at lessening the numbers who have to be turned away from Art To Wears. She had gone along and “felt the buzz” at the Old School later on Saturday night.

*A selection of works showcased at the Art To Wear event is now on display at the Old School in Stewart Street for public viewing, Monday-Friday 10am-2pm through to July 4. Entry by koha.

Edith Symes

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