Putting art on the catwalk

Category: Caring

The Bupa Wearable Fashion Festival is a favourite event on the calendar of Wellington care home residents. It’s a chance to let their artistic talents shine on the catwalk.

Wearable fashion festival | Wellington | Bupa

Jean Bryant from Bupa Winara in 'We chose the best, flag the rest'.


“The residents love modelling and making the costumes. They are so proud of what they create and proud to represent their homes. The event is so much fun for everyone,” says Shane Whaanga, Manager of Whitby Rest Home.

This year residents made their entrance in wonderful costumes made from a variety of materials including newspaper and old cds. The costumes included the paper doll, funky pineapple and Rawho Korowai/Cloak. Care home activity co-ordinators escorted residents along the catwalk to the sound of Madonna’s Vogue.

It’s such a special day and there’s such great imagination on display

Shane Whaanga - Manager of Whitby Rest Home

This Bupa community event is about bringing people together in a positive way. The costume making is done by the residents with a little help from their activities teams. “Our teams are great at getting everybody contributing,” says Shane. 

Although the festival is all about getting people together, the residents and employees get attached to their creations. “There’s definitely an air of competition,” Shane says. “That includes residents and employees. Everyone gets involved.” 

Residents really look forward to the event. “It’s such a special day and there’s such great imagination on display,” Shane says. Residents really love contributing, whether that means modelling a costume, helping create one, or participating in the celebration”. 

The idea for the Wearable Fashion Festival came from the activities team at Harbourview, who held the first event in 2007, to coincide with the World of Wearable Art Festival (WOW). The team were inspired by the creativity, imagination and craft on display in the WOW Festival and wanted to bring that to their residents.. 

Harbourview invited other Wellington homes to participate and the festival grew. It’s now hosted every two years by one of the Wellington homes. 

Homes start their preparation up to nine months before the Festival and get together to brainstorm ideas and discuss plans. 

This year, to make sure the event flowed smoothly, the organisers hired an entertainer who gave out spot prizes and awards to help keep everyone entertained between catwalk runs. 

The Activities teams go out of their way to make the day truly memorable. “The focus is really on making sure residents are entertained, says Shane. At the end of the fashion show, many of the residents get up and dance. 

The event is uplifting for employees too, not just residents. “It’s really special and at the end of the day we are all buzzing,” says Shane.

Whitby Care Home

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