Wow! Wearable wonders

Wow! Wearable wonders

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Children at a rehearsal.
Children at a rehearsal.
Photos: Chris Lau/SCMP
The World of WearableArt (WOW) is a mix of theatre and fashion. Founded in Nelson, New Zealand, WOW holds a competition every year to find the most inventive outfits. Designers from all over the world enter.

The winning masterpieces are then worn by skilful dancers and showcased in a choreographed theatrical performance.

This year, for the first time, the troupe is performing in the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which ends on March 8.

This week, two junior reporters venture backstage. They wander from wardrobe to wardrobe, looking through all of WOW's outfits. They even speak to the wardrobe manager, Ingrid Peek. Check out what they discover ...

Local involvement

This is the first time WOW is being performed overseas. It may come from New Zealand, but it also has a local flavour.

There are 32 Hong Kong youngsters performing in the children's section. That part is full of bright colours and cheerful, upbeat music. The story is based on fairy tales and fables such as The Frog Prince, a story about a prince who is turned into a frog and must wait for a true love's kiss to save him.

The children have a challenging task because they have to learn the choreography in about two weeks. Also, many of them have to wear heavy costumes for the performance.

As well as young local performers, the show features 10 extra pieces designed by students from the Hong Kong Design Institute.

Kate Ng

Preservation is key

Ingrid Peek is the wardrobe manager of WOW. She oversees truckloads of wardrobes and is swamped by 500 incredible garments. Because each costume is made up of many pieces, from tops to socks, Peek's job is to make sure everything is complete.

The most fragile outfit she has ever managed was made of leaves, she recalls.

"That piece was knitted together with some thin native leaves from New Zealand. It dried out very easily, and we needed to put oil on the outfit regularly to make it look shiny and bright," she says. "We have a team which is responsible for the maintenance of garments and keeping them in good condition."

Peek says the team spot-cleans the garments, only washing one part, sometimes with alcohol instead of soap and water, because the piece might be too delicate. Another way to protect a garment is to place additional pads inside - in the armpit area, for example - to avoid sweat stains on the costume.

Janet Tam

WOW is playing at Kitec's Star Hall in Kowloon Bay tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. To buy tickets, visit HK Ticketing or Urbtix online.

If you are a full-time secondary school student or tertiary student aged 25 or below, you can join the arts festival's Young Friends group (YFS). It's a way to meet other young art lovers and learn more about arts administration. Members can also attend two festival programmes for free. For more details, visit www.yfs.artsfestival.org.

Check out the Hong Kong Arts Festival schedule at www.hk.artsfestival.org

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