Heady times, amazing designs set audience abuzz

NZ HAT & HAIR ART AWARDS 2008

Heady Times picThe New Zealand Hat and Hair Awards has emerged from its awkward adolescence and found its identity as an iconic national event.

The ceremony took centre stage on Saturday night at the Timaru Theatre Royal.

Event director Denise Whyte and creative director Aaron Williams have proved a powerful force when combined to bring about the best show yet.

A dramatic light display set the show off, with a matrix themed dance to launch the visual extravaganza about to unfold.

Diamonds truly were a woman's best friend in the Totally Bling section, with a cleverly choreographed dance between the sections to the Sex in the City theme, complete with a poodle and Paris lookalike, before the second section of amazing blinged-out hair designs.

The strong start got the crowd buzzing, with an audience member commenting: "I can't take my eyes off the stage".

The Tesoro hat and hair art sections brought a sophisticated element to the awards with opulent fabrics and designs, ultimately producing the overall hair art winner Jennie Hasler-Jacobs with her entry, Elizabeth.

Between the sections another fantastic choreographed dance to a modern song in aristocratic clothing.

Half-time came with the crowd chatting and everyone having an opinion. The opening of the second half was a standout tribal performance to start the Taonga section which left audience members with goosebumps.

This section was a real triumph as the designers interpreted their Aotearoa. The section produced the supreme overall hat winner with Sarah Thomas's entry, Moko.

The final section was Taj Mahal, a take on architecture around the world. Sructurally, the varied and ingenius designs complemented each other beautifully.

Judge Rick Lucas said he was amazed at the high calibre of the entries, although the audience may have disagreed with some of the choices the judges made as they had to judge them to certain criteria.

"I know this sounds cliche, but it was really had to decide. We looked at each section two or three times and had big discussions."

Judge Tanya Carlson was greatly impressed with the overall hair art winning entry, Elizabeth.

"When I arrived, Elizabeth was sitting regally and I just loved the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine elements together.

"It is really textural but it doesn't fight for attention."

Balclutha designer Jennie Hasler-Jacobs was ecstatic to win.

"I was really happy with the design - it has a gothic dark twist."

Timaru woman Sarah Thomas' supreme winning hat entry, Moko, topped off a successful year for her after winning her section with her entry in the World of Wearable Art Awards in Wellington, and being placed second in the Ashburton Wearable Art Awards.

"I started working on my entries after coming back from Wellington in September," she said. In the short space of time she produced a hat for all four sections. "I'm not really a frills and lace kind of person but I like construction and problem solving."

For Colleen and Graham Woods it was their first time at the show and they were impressed.

"It is very professional and very original; we will definitely come again."

Audience member Mary Shaw was impressed with the show's evolution.

"It was just amazing, and gets better and better every year."

Event director Denise Whyte was thrilled the event had come together so well. "You don't know how it will end up on the night but I was really happy with it and convinced we had a good show.

"I just take my hat off to all the designers. The show just keeps improving year after year."