WOW shows are the perfect excuse to plan some fun in the capital, writes Catherine Smith

Whether you're a creative crafts person or more of a crazy cougar, it's hard not to be drawn to Wellington this month for the World of Wearable Arts shows.

This year, the city is turning up the excitement as the show celebrates its 25th birthday.

My favourite is the WOW-themed window-dressing competition. This year there are 60 stores lined up to compete. Last year's winner from my favourite vintage store,

Emporium on Cuba St, could have just about made it into the show with its pale assemblage of - naturally - vintage fabrics.

Though most of the people flocking to the city are there for massive shopping and eating excursions, it is nice that the city and its retailers woo us, too - acknowledging that behind every shopping bag beats the heart of a frustrated artist, perhaps.

Add in some terrific pre- and post-show meal deals (and, if you time it right, the New Zealand Chocolate Festival) and that's a great few days down South.

To complete the WOW overdose, catch the Wow Factor exhibition at Te Papa, showcasing 25 years of the show in 25 garments (including design sketches and pieces from last year).

I'm hoping for at least one of the crazy knitted jumpers that featured in Dame Suzie Moncrieff's first WOW show in a rainy Nelson paddock all those years ago.

It is one thing to be thrilled by the staging of the show, but it is quite another to examine the garments themselves and wonder at the craftsmanship and skill (and unbelievable hours) that have gone into creating each piece of art.

I spent an all-too-brief morning at the WOW & Classic Cars Museum in Nelson. Opened 10 years ago - and conveniently sharing space with an equally mind-blowing collection of vintage cars - the museum is a testament to the idea of "build great design and they will come".

Although the architecture isn't quite the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the building houses enticing WOW garments. Up close, you see the pieces are as much about building, engineering and welding as they are about stitching. Videos of the shows and a rotating collection of winners and finalists from different eras mean that you can go back in time to find new details.


World of Wearable Arts Show: TSB Bank Arena, Queens Wharf, Wellington - September 26 until October 6.

Awards: Friday, September 27, tickets from $50 to $150 at

The Wow Factor: 25 Years in the Making: Te Papa, 4 Eyelights Gallery, Level 4 - free entry.

World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum: Cadillac Way off Quarantine Rd, Nelson -

New Zealand Chocolate Festival: Hotel Intercontinental - September 6-8.

By Catherine Smith Email Catherine