From its humble beginnings, WoolOn has become a regular feature on the Central Otago Events Calendar. Now attracting entries from all over New Zealand and overseas, it has grown from a small show on a very limited budget into two nights of fashion extravaganza.
Wool is an important story not only for Central Otago where the Awards are held but also for New Zealand. The Central Otago region’s landscape has always been the perfect backdrop to inspire designers’ fashion clothing over the years.
The WoolOn Creative Fashion Event makes the connection between fibre, art, and glamour. You see bold cutting edge design from a beautiful raw product. All garments entered must be 75% wool and there are eight categories in the event.
The first show was in 2004 in Molyneux Park Stadium in Alexandra. Over the years the aim has been to raise the production standards and present a fashion event on par with anything in New Zealand. This is a celebration of wool fibre, recognising the traditional creative arts of knitting as well as exploring new design and encouraging younger people to get involved. The event includes the popular Streetwear, Special Occasion, and Avant-Garde sections. Also, an exciting section called Collections that allow designers to enter their garments with a common look and feel. In recognition of the many techniques suitable for creating wool garments, there are specialise craft sections and a new Accessories section to showcase designers talents more broadly. To encourage young designers there is the Under 23 Emerging Designer Award or the Novice section for designers who may be experienced in their craft but haven’t previously entered an awards event.
Judges are from a range of fields – Fashion, education and industry leaders lending their talent and experience to an outstanding event. WoolOn relies on sponsorship, volunteers, and involvement from local businesses not only for the front of house but behind the scenes during the months of preparation.
WoolOn Design Categories
A versatile daytime outfit with strong directional modern looks
Casual and comfortable alone won’t be enough to impress in this section. Inspirational influences could include cross cultural references or collaborations of local and international evolving themes. To create your own modern and edgy look consider mixing texture, proportion and colour in unexpected measure, or consider the addition of light-hearted pieces or features of bold colours, graphics, or even a touch of bling. This doesn’t rule out understated elegance in neutrals. If that is your preference then score high with sharp fashion forward styling and impeccable construction and fit.
A glamorous outfit suitable for formal occasions or special events. e.g. wedding, race day or ball, exhibiting a sense of style, sophistication or flair.
Combine classic elements with a contemporary edge to fit the elegance and sophistication of a special occasion. Whether it’s for a bridal party, an indulgent evening or a red carpet appearance, it will offer flattering silhouettes and an unwavering commitment to quality in both tailoring and use of high end fabrics or yarn.
A garment that delights in the unconventional and unexpected
In the telling of a story, this outfit showcases creativity, innovation, and uniqueness. Not necessarily wearable in conventional situations but an artwork on its own with maximum impact; a work of art that adorns the body and delights the crowd.
Utilising techniques to highlight felts uniqueness and versatility
While the scope of the design is open, the quality of workmanship and creativity of the felt produced will be a strong focus. In felting, the entire process from raw wool to end product is paramount to ensure the intrinsic qualities of the wool itself, such as its texture and feel, are not sacrificed. The design of the garment will further enhance the felted materials weight, texture, colour or patterns and show a sophisticated sense of styling in felt. For this section, a minimum of 50% of the garment must be felted. Other mediums or construction methods can make up the remainder of the garment.
Knitted, Crocheted, Woven & Needlepoint: Innovative use of any of these handcrafted techniques
Join the resurgence in popularity for handcrafts and challenge people’s preconception of these time-honoured traditions. Think fresh and modern. For this section, a minimum of 50% of the garment must be handcrafted. Other mediums or construction methods can make up the remainder of the garment.
Three complete cohesive looks with a common design theme
This open style section provides the ultimate in creative freedom. Designers are encouraged to go it alone, combine with other designers to reduce the workload or combine with others to stimulate collaborative inspiration. Materials, colour or texture could tie your collection together. Variations could be subtle or extreme however the styling of the collection must be cohesive. You’ll be rewarded by having all three garments modelled together on the catwalk, maximising the impact of your designs to the delight of the audience. The entry can comprise three men’s garments or three women’s garments or any combination of these.
Design and hand-crafted shoes, jewellery, scarves, wraps or headwear.
Open to all designers who have not entered any previous competition.
School Designer (New)
An award for the top designer attending Primary or Secondary school. Designers can enter any category and all entrants still attending primary or secondary school will be eligible for this award.
Designs should be highly directional and exhibit strong awareness of contemporary fashion. With a focus on fashion’s future, designers will be rewarded for experimentation and thoughtful reimagining’s or subversions for the rules of fashion as we know it.
Under 23 Designer
An award for the top under 23yr old designer. Designers can enter any category and all entrants in this age group will be eligible for this award.
Designs should be highly directional and exhibit strong awareness of contemporary fashion. With a focus on fashion’s future, designers will be rewarded for experimentation and thoughtful reimagining’s or subversions for the rules of fashion as we know it. In acknowledging that the industry requires emerging designers to have a broad range of skills, designers eligible for this award must design AND construct the garment without assistance from others. Designers MUST be under 23 on the day of the awards show.
WoolOn Supreme Award
The best entry across all sections
All entries are eligible for this award. The winning garment will represent excellence in creativity & originality, use of mediums, construction and overall supreme factor.
WoolOn’s vision is to become New Zealand’s leading organisation for showcasing and developing wool design and artistry. To achieve this, we aim to provide unique, high-quality events and programmes that showcase wool design in New Zealand and support the development of existing and new designers.
The key elements of our programme include:
Delivering an exceptional Award event that draws on audiences from throughout New Zealand, with more entries, more attendances, a higher profile and social media reach
Developing our education programme to create more opportunities for people to learn more about wool-based craft and design, and to increase the numbers of new and novice designers entering our annual Awards
Building our partnership programme with both local and national industry partners to increase the profile of wool from the farm-gate to the catwalk, while further enhancing WoolOn’s profile as a key supporter and promoter of wool-based design in New Zealand.
The WoolOn team is comprised of a group of professional, committed and passionate men and women from Central Otago. We are focused on delivering inspirational and unique experiences that consistently inspire and impress our customers and partners.