Behind the seams with the talented World of WearableArt 2022 designers

By Dorothy McHugh

Behind the seams with the talented World of WearableArt 2022 designers
MiNDFOOD sits down with three Wellington based designers from this year's World of WearableArt; Lyndal Linton, Liz Ritchies and 2022 Aotearoa section winner Fifi Colston. 

Lyndal Linton

2022 is Lyndal Linton’s 20th time entering the world renowned competition and this year she came second in Aotearoa section.

Since 2005 the World of Wearable Arts Community has become integral to Linton’s way of life. Each year she makes sure that she learns a new skill, technique or trials working with new materials. By following this philosophy each year has felt like a new adventure and she’s never disappointed if her final entry isn’t selected.

This year the artist took a new approach by collaborating with her family. As WOW is such a large part of her life it was only natural for her children and husband to take an interest over the years, however this year the Linton family took it to a new level. For Christmas, her 20-year-old son, Harvey Linton, gifted her a piece of A4 paper filled from edge to edge with sketches and ideas for her next WOW submission. On the piece of paper, Linton was instantly drawn to a sketch of a puffer fish. The style of the drawing got her thinking of the beauty beneath the surface. Her imagination wandered to a stingray – they are scary “but what lies beneath?”.  And just like that, she had the concept for her 2022 submission. 

“WOW is amazing, it’s a part of my life”. Linton is a passionate advocate for the WOW community and has made it her mission to inspire friends, family and creatives alike to enter WOW each year.

Linton’s 2022 submission is called X-Ray designed with Brett Linton and Harvey Linton. The trio made their submission from carbon fibre, Nomex honeycomb and harakeke (flax). The concept is an appreciation for what lurks beneath the surface leading to a revelation of hidden beauty.

When Linton isn’t designing for the next WOW, she designs handbags for her own brand, AQ bags.

Liz Ritchie

Liz Ritchie first entered WOW a decade ago and her design process has evolved each year since. This year she picked her materials first and grew the concept from there. She had a large number of old conference signage boards and was amazed by the movement that could be created once the material had been manipulated.

Ritchie cut, painted and played with the boards until they were completely unrecognisable, almost looking like metal. She liked the idea of using a modern material and handling it to look aged.

With the material determined, Ritchie was missing a concept to tie the project together. During a trip to New York City to visit her son, she went to see the Vessel landmark and knew straight away that it was going to be the inspiration for her garment this year. After that, the shape and the construction of her submission quickly came together.

Ritchie’s 2022 submission is called Rust Never Sleeps and is made of Corflute boards, bolts, tape and paint.

When Ritchie isn’t designing for the next WOW, she is painting or working on her abstract landscape photography.


Fifi Colston

Fifi Colston and Bruce Mahalski won the Aotearoa section award at the 2022 World of WearableArt show.

Colston has been a finalist 27 times, starting in 1995. This year, she has gone in a new direction collaborating with an Otago-based artist, sculptor and friend she used to share an art studio with in Wellington. Mahalski owns The Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery. The museum contains a collection of skulls, bones, biological curiosities and unusual cultural artifacts which Bruce has curated over his life-time. Once Bruce finds a deceased animal in the wild he places it in a tank with flesh eating beetles which naturally clean the animals bones. An unusual but surprisingly effective method.

When Colston saw the sculptures Mahalski was creating from animal skulls she could instantly imagine them being worn and showcased in WOW. Although Mahalski wasn’t interested in entering solo, he was fascinated by the concept of collaborating with Colston. The inception of the garment started with Colston creating a thermoplastic base and Mahalski designing his sculptural work over the top.

For the bottom part of the outfit she created a red skirt element with a Central Otago landscape digitally printed on the garment. The look was complete with a badger’s skull topped headpiece.

Colston loves the freedom WOW provides. “It’s an opportunity to do whatever you want. You don’t have to fit someone else’s agenda.” Her 2022 submission is called Fera Dei created with Mahalski using animal bones and skulls combined with digitally printed fabric.

When Colston isn’t designing for the next WOW, she is writing, teaching and running workshops.

The World of WearableArt Awards Show is on at TSB Arena, Wellington from 29 September until 16 October. Tickets and more information available at



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