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Tree leaves a winning theme at packed Artowear shows

A ballgown made of scented silver dollar gum leaves wowed the judges and won the $1000 supreme award at Raglan’s 2010 Artowear event which attracted sell-out crowds for both matinee and evening shows in the town hall last Saturday.
Aptly titled Beleave and adorned with pink protea breastplates, the garment — designed by Riley Coleman and Carly McCarthy, and modelled by local teen Kate Sandwell — earlier took out top honours in the Green section, one of five categories which between them attracted 57 entrants.
While hundreds of the eucalyptus leaves were used to create an effect of armour or fish scales over a fitted corset made of wire and hessian, co-compere Jane Williams quipped — in keeping with the ethos of Raglan’s own biennial fashion show — that “only one tree was harmed in the creation of this outfit”.
Meanwhile a dragonfly creation entitled Gossamer on Wind won second prize overall and $500 for Ayla Bensemann, who headed a strong showing of budding young fashion designers and earlier finished runner-up in the Crazy Creatures children’s category.

Photos by Mark Hamilton

The top three for 2010 was rounded out by Green category runners-up Lemaja and Jenny Gaunt and Sunny and Liz Hosking with an entry they titled Mine All Mine, an imaginative Puka tree creation that not only turned but also bumped heads among the audience courtesy of unfurled fronds that proved wider than the catwalk.
Luckily co-compere Ian Mayes had forewarned those seated “on the edge”, in the front row, to beware an expected overflow of “creative juice”.
Ian described as “fan-flipping-tastic” all the entries which, he pointed out, showcased the community’s flair for wearable art.
Children’s costumes were a feature of this year’s Artowear event, which saw an array of Green Dream Creatures from Raglan Childcare and Education Centre slither, swim and strut the length of the catwalk while The Waitetuna Wild Things — led of course by Max — were far from still as they stomped and frolicked in an imaginary forest.
But it was the copper wire-winged Dragonfly by Astrid Cotterill-Nagels — an entry in the Washed Up category — which most caught the eye of the judging panel and took the $200 children’s supreme award.
The people’s choice award, scoring a trophy by local steel artist Chris Meek, came from the same category which was open to all ages and in which entries had to be at least 80 percent recycled. It was won by Liz Hosking for Tag and Release, a costume made from 2250 plastic tags of the sort more likely to be found on supermarket shelves securing the tops of bread bags.
She says she was inspired to create a costume from an everyday object that is not usually recycled and reckons it took three years for friends, family and local businesses to help her collect the tags.
The prize for top model(s) went to a macabre Green category entry from Tracy Brechelt entitled Gangrenous Captures Green Fairy which saw “the insidious hand of progress drag a green-minded fairy into the depths of darkness” — in reality, tortuously along the catwalk — as co-compere Ian quipped “let her go”.
It was an entry judge Wanda Barker praised as “brilliant and scary”. She and fellow Raglan artist Javier Meade, who between them announced the prizewinners, were joined at the judging table by Waingaro’s Reihana Maniapoto — whose harakeke creations have triumphed at previous Artowears — and Gayle Wray, who sells her Swerve-label designs through her daughter’s downtown Raglan shop, Flaxen.
Artowear co-ordinator Jean Carbon said the quality and creativity of this year’s work amazed the judges and organisers.
Other section winners were Ronan Thompson’s Orange Dragon Fish (Crazy Creatures category), Salvodor Cotterill-Nagel’s Kiwi Mewi Fruit (Kiwiana Kitsch) and Lexi Holmes’ Tani-bot-o-saurus Lex (Be Pacific).

Edith Symes

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