When can attire skirt around the very basic notions of fashion? When it's part of World of WearableArt. New Zealand's annual World of WearableArt competition—the country's biggest art show—brings together designers from all over the world to show off stunning and outlandish outfits. Think of it like a next level Halloween costume contest for super creative people with excessive amounts of time. It's not fashion, it's art that uses the form of the human body as a canvas. The unique (and often impractical) outfits currently make their North American debut in the EMP Museum exhibit, World of WearableArt. For fans of imaginative dress up, it's worth taking a trip to Seattle Center to check out the 32 fantastical costume creations on display.
To give you a small taste of World of WearableArt, we decided to bestow a few yearbook-style superlatives on a handful of the most eye-catching outfits.
Inkling by Gillian Saunders (2013, New Zealand)
In lesser hands, we'd categorize such the over-the-top flair—covering every inch of flesh with colorful ink and larger than life creatures—as a desperate cry for attention. But... damn, Inkling, you pull it off. (Though your look might not go over great in job interviews.)
MOST LIKELY TO BATTLE IN MORDOR
Persephone's Descent by Stuart Johnson (2002, New Zealand)
Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised... but you might as well look pretty badass while doing them.
MOST LIKELY TO GET ITS OWN NETFLIX SHOW
Hylonome by Mary Wing To (2011, United Kingdom)
MOST LIKELY TO (WRONGLY) BE CITED FOR INDECENT EXPOSURE
Lady Curiosity by Fifi Colston (2010, New Zealand)
What do you mean, this is inappropriate attire for class? Ugh. It's a tribute to the tattooed women of 19rh century circuses—I did a history report on them—and it certainly passes the school's stupid short skirt dress code policy.
In the Op by Ling Lai Kit Ling (2012, Hong Kong)
Out of all the outfits on display, In the Op seems like the one that might actually fit in on a high fashion runway. It's not too high concept. Also, it's surprising that EMP was able to afford hiring Sia to be the full time model for the exhibit.
MOST LIKELY TO HOUSE A HUNCHBACK
Gothic Habit by Lynn Christiansen (2014, United States)
Though Quasimodo would actually garner less looks when walking down the street than anyone wearing Gothic Habit.
MOST LIKELY TO BECOME A HOARDER
Ten Breasted Suitcase by Allan Gale (2007, New Zealand)
So you compulsively by a your favorite suitcase on Amazon every time the latest one gets scuffed, but you don't want to throw them out cause that seems wasteful...
MOST LIKELY TO BE A 21 JUMP STREET STYLE NARC
Busted by Rodney Thorburn (2008, New Zealand)
How old are you again? I could've sworn you've been hanging around these halls since Madonna's Blonde Ambition World Tour in 1990...
MOST LIKELY TO BE MISTAKEN FOR A ROCK BY PEOPLE AT THE BEACH WITH MATCHING TOWELS
Hermecea by Jan Kerr (2011, New Zeland)
World of WearableArt
Thru Jan 2, EMP Museum, $22