A design that took three months of inspiration and three months of construction won the top prize at the MLT Hokonui Fashion Design Awards in Gore on Saturday night.
Sheetal Chawla, an AUT student in Auckland, won the Mackersey Property Collections Award Open section and won the MLT Award of Excellence for her design, which she said was inspired by nature.
“I can’t imagine winning here,” Chawla said emotionally.
“This is going to stimulate my career, I’m very excited, very emotional.”
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Judge Steve Dunstan of Huffer said Chawla’s black and white cotton blend designs stood out among 250 entries from New Zealand amateur designers.
“It was very well built, the level of finish, it was so well balanced.
“There were a lot of designs that shined, but this one was a notch above the rest, it was a pretty obvious choice,” he said.
It was also a big night for 16-year-old May Dyson of Tuatapere, who won both the People’s Choice and Best Southland Designer Awards in a flowing gown made with Vogue sewing patterns.
It was the first time she entered the awards.
She said she was impressed with her win, loved seeing her design on the runway, and planned to study theater costume design.
Dunstan said he was “blown away” by the pattern of entries in the school sections and, for the first time, a student at the school won one of the grand prizes, with Tanika Whale of Nga Tawa Diocesan School in Marton winning the Gore District. Council Auha Award.
Dunstan was joined on the judging panel by twenty-seven designer names Rachel Easting and Anjali Burnett, and Juliette Hogan, by Juliette Hogan, to review more than 250 entries.
- Fabric Store Best Use of Fabric Award: Vorakvong Chylong, Wellington
- Girl Next Door with Most Commercial Potential Award: Emily Cummings, Christchurch
- O’Connor Richmond Award Best Use of Wool: Lochiel Kay, Dunedin
- Gore District Council Auaha Award: Tanika Whale, Nga Tawa Diocesan School
- Cardrona Distillery People’s Choice Award: May Dyson, Tuatapere
- Heather Paterson QSM Memorial Trophy/Southland Best Designer Award: May Dyson, Tuatapere
- Country Living Narrative Award: Nan Walden, Wellington
- Southern Institute of Technology Young Designer Award: Oliver Schercher, Christchurch
- Mataura Licensing Trust Excellence Award: Sheetal Chawla, Auckland
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