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Wearable Art’s 25 alive 

Celebrating 25 years of avant-garde, politically minded fashion, the Wearable Art Show takes to the runway.

click to enlarge Joyce Jiu fashions push boundaries. - ALEX CHISHOLM
  • Joyce Jiu fashions push boundaries.
  • Alex Chisholm

Models, and drag queens and acrobats—oh my! The Wearable Art Show is the wildest night of runway fashion and performance art in Halifax and it's celebrating a silver anniversary.

The Wearable Art Show is an annual extravaganza that is to Halifax's fashion and art communities what Christmas morning is to tiny tots. After four years of volunteering with the show, NSCAD student Jessica Lynn Wiebe still feels the same thrill before each collection hits the catwalk. "The excitement and anticipation of not knowing what's going to step out and walk down the runway is my favourite part," she says.

Wiebe is the student organizer for the 25th annual Wearable Art Show. She's spent months ironing out details and hemming in NSCAD students, faculty, alumni, community partners and local businesses.

Wiebe cautions that people who are easily offended might not appreciate the artists' avant-garde tendencies but advocates for the show's affect. "Everyone should experience the Wearable Art Show at least once in a lifetime," says Wiebe. "The experience is like nothing else. It's a collection of inspiration that every individual viewer will take home with them."

The organizers' dedication to fundraising is as inspiring as the artists' work. NSCAD alumnus Andrew Harwood conceived the event as a class project in 1990. Hayward was watching people die from AIDS and as a queer and politically minded youth he felt compelled to take action. "The first show was a response to community need," says Harwood. "It was just a way to bring people together to help others."

Harwood staged Wrapped and Lubed, Wrapped and Lewd as a way for student artists to show their wearable work and support people living with AIDS. At a time when there was rampant misinformation about the virus, widespread fear and little government funding going toward research, the Wearable Art Show provoked change on and off the runway.

Over the past quarter century the Wearable Art Show has become part of the cultural fabric of Halifax and raised over $100,000 for the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia. "The community involvement and the support that is demonstrated every year toward this event is something to witness," says Wiebe. "Pacifico Nightclub has provided us with a free venue this year, which gives us a great opportunity to raise funds."

The free venue means organizers can offer affordable tickets (only $10 to $20 each) and still make a sizeable donation to the AIDS Coalition.

Wiebe appreciates the opportunity to participate in this fabulous fundraiser and she's already thinking about the future. "It's an honour to be a part of the 25 year history organizing this incredible event," says Wiebe. "I look forward to attending the 50th Wearable Art show."


NSCAD Wearable Art Show
Thursday, March 5 at 8pm
Pacifico, 1505 Barrington Street
$10 advance at Venus Envy, NSCAD Supply Store, wearableartshow.myevent.com
$20/$15 students

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