The event, now in it’s 27th year, challengers designers to take “art off the wall and onto the human form”. The show is a 2 hour spectacular of dance, theater, music and art, and is New Zealand’s largest arts show with over 50,000 attendees from around the world every year. Entries to the WOW competition are fierce with only 100 garments from around the world being nominated to take place in the final show. Once the month long show has ended the garments become part of the permanent collection of the World of WearableArts Museum in Nelson, New Zealand and can also be selected for international WOW touring exhibitions.
Khan has had three outfits finalized and presented in the WOW awards show, each a collaborative effort with his design partner Frida Ali. The creative process is a long one for each piece. From development to the realizing of each showpiece has taken well over four months. Their entries Bling Warrior (Avant Garde Section) and Skulls of Bondage (Bizarre Bra Section) were both entered in the 2014 competition. Bling Warrior was the recipient of two awards (winner of the First Time Entrant Award and third prize in the American Express Open Section). Their piece Soldier of Fortune was nominated in the Man Section 2015.
'The Bling Warrior' and 'Soldier of Fortune' are part of a 'Warrior' series, with the concept of the soldier as an ‘idealized model of invincibility’. In Khan’s words the soldier is “adorned with the reminders of his achievements that are toxic, gaudy and a predominant element of his being, reflecting the collective decisions of the social order that produced this soldier”.
Khan writes: “In developing these outfits we wanted to maintain a strong connection between them yet push the techniques further forward, as well as bring the distinct and strong codes of menswear and masculinity to the piece.’ Materials used include vinyl, white and gold chain detailing, canvas, lurex, football pads and 10,000 Swarovski crystal diamantes.
Khan, who has been teaching at VCUQatar for eight years, is currently working on his PhD thesis which has the working title of: "Anatomy of Contemporary Macho: Breaking Stereotypes to define a new 'macho man' through the eyes of five unique global pop subcultures".