A design that took three months of inspiration and three months of construction won the top award at the MLT Hokonui Fashion Design Awards in Gore on Saturday night.
Sheetal Chawla, a student at AUT in Auckland, won the Mackersey Property Collections Award Open section and went on to win the MLT Award of Excellence for her design, which she said was inspired by nature.
“I can’t imagine myself up here winning,” an emotional Chawla said.
“This will stimulate my career, I’m really excited, really thrilled.”
Judge Steve Dunstan, of Huffer, said Chawla’s black and white, cotton mix designs were a stand-out amongst the 250 entries from New Zealand’s amateur designers.
“It was really well constructed, the level of finishing, it was so well-balanced.
“There were a lot of designs that shined, but this was a level above the rest, it was quite an obvious choice,” he said.
It was also a big night for 16-year-old May Dyson, of Tuatapere, who won the People’s Choice and Best Southland Designer Awards with a flowing dress made of Vogue sewing patterns.
It was her first time entering the awards.
She said she was overwhelmed by her win, had loved seeing her design on the catwalk and planned to study theater costume design.
Dunstan said he had been ”blown away” by the standard of entries in the school sections, and for the first time a school pupil won one of the big awards, with Tanika Whale of Nga Tawa Diocesan School in Marton winning the Gore District Council Auaha Award.
Dunstan was joined on the judging panel by twenty-seven names designers Rachel Easting and Anjali Burnett, and Juliette Hogan, of Juliette Hogan, to critique more than 250 entries.
- The Fabric Store Best Use of Fabric Award: Vorakvong Chylong, Wellington
- Girl Next Door Garment with the Most Commercial Potential Award: Emily Cummings, Christchurch
- O’Connor Richmond Best Use Of Wool Award: 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/Award for Best Southland Designer: May Dyson, Tuatapere
- Country Living Narrative Award: Nan Walden, Wellington
- Southern Institute of Technology Young Designer Award: Oliver Schefer, Christchurch
- Mataura Licensing Trust Award of Excellence: Sheetal Chawla, Auckland