Skip to content

Hair today . . . art tomorrow

Creative and wearable hat designs will be exclusively showcased at this year’s Cup and Show Week for the first time.

Although hats have always been a focus at the races, this year will see a competition specifically celebrating just the shoulders up.

The Hat and Hair Art Awards originated in Timaru in 2005 and have gained momentum in the past nine years.

New Zealand Hat and Hair Art director Denise Whyte says the event is a spectacle.

“We have tended to make it quite a glam event . . . it’s a mix of catwalk and performance.”

The designs are wearable, but should also be artistic.

“It’s an extension of handcrafts, really . . . like Christmas, unwrapping the designs when they arrive,” Whyte says.

The awards have been a stepping stone for past World of Wearable Arts (WOW) designers.

Sarah Thomas, a previous Hat and Hair Art winner, went on to win the Weta award at WOW twice. “[The Hat and Hair Art Awards] got me back into doing everything arty, you name it, I’ve done it,” she says.

This year will be the fifth time Thomas has entered the awards. Her designs include a hat made from plastic ties that have been dyed.

“It looks like coloured grass,” she says.

Her hair entry is titled Bed Hair Day, with a hair piece made from ripped-up sheets. The model will also be wrapped in a duvet.

She says her designs are artistic, but she likes to see variation in the shows.

“There are traditional hat styles, but it’s good when some people go down the wacky track.”

New Zealand Hat and Hair Art runs workshops for potential designers to hone their skills.

“Everyone helps each other out [at the workshops] and some designers have gone on to enter the competition,” Whyte says.

Previous Hat and Hair Art designs had featured at both New York’s Couture Fashion Week and iD Dunedin Fashion Week last year. They had also been showcased at the America’s Cup in San Francisco.

Whyte says getting international recognition is “pretty amazing”.

“There were a lot of designers from lots of different countries. It was amazing to see the show on the world stage.”

Winners will receive prize money totalling $25,000.

The results will be announced on November 8 at the Christchurch City Council Civic Offices.

_Jess Pullar for The Mail