By day Carolyn Gibson works at Harvey Furnishings in New Lynn, but in her spare time Carolyn can usually be found working on her latest WoW creation.
The 2019 World of Wearable Arts (WoW) show was the fifth year Carolyn has entered. While she was not placed this time, she has enjoyed remarkable success for her previous entries, winning the New Zealand Design title in 2016 with Voyage to Revolution and again in 2017 with The Seeker. Her 2015 entry Crystallisation was a finalist in the First Time Entrant category, as was Beautiful Destroyer, her 2018 entry in the Under the Microscope category.
This year Carolyn designed Rock Me Amadeus for the White category, however, with sparkling diamantes on her creation which are not technically white, she was transferred to the Open category.
Rock Me Amadeus which took seven months to complete, encompasses a cello made from pliable plastic covered with white faux leather. The costume was made from upholstery fabric which was hand appliquéd with brocade cut-outs, embellished with diamanté, and features 115 roses, incorporating 950 hand-cut petals. Everything on the design is handmade, apart from the bow which comes from a violin.
As a master milliner – hat maker – it was logical for Carolyn to start from the top down. “I started with the head piece first. I envisaged it with a tall baroque-style wig, and that was the inspiration for the rest of the design,” she says.
At age 15 Carolyn began a 4-year millinery apprenticeship. Moving to Canada in her twenties, she found there was no demand for her hat-making skills, so she retrained as a hairdresser. However, her design skills found an outlet in the Fantasy Hair Design competition, which she won five years in a row, sparking her love of design competition.
Returning to New Zealand in the early nineties, Carolyn opened a bridal shop in Henderson, combining veils and hats with her hairdressing skills. Later she opened a millinery shop in Mt Albert, Le Chapeau, her hats winning several awards at the Christchurch and Ellerslie Fashions in the Field Events, including podium places for the overall competition which earned two trips to the Melbourne Cup.
Carolyn has taught millinery internationally, in Canada and Australia, as well as in New Zealand, and now teaches from home.
As for WoW 2020? Carolyn has already begun work on her design, and is keeping that a closely guarded secret!