Student designers show FLAIR

THE battle was on but in the end Sydney Institute of Fashion Design TAFE reigned supreme at the Flair Awards.

The school’s head teacher in fashion design, Nicholas Huxley was up at the podium to accept nine awards on behalf of his students, including the illustrious Designer of the Year gong and High Flyer Award for Annelise Heffer-Jones.

“I’m so thrilled for Annelise.

“She’s a package. She’s one person who puts me in my place. She’s like a bulldozer and I’m absolutely thrilled for her.”

He said she was a “workhorse” who had finished the garment early (“It’s been made very quickly”) so she could travel to Las Vegas and “be a party girl”.

Her gold coloured gown, which also won the red carpet category, included a leather bodice which was beaded.

Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE in Queensland students won eight awards (with the vast majority to male designers) during the glitzy and glamorous showcase on Saturday night.

Teacher Chris Twine accepted those awards on their behalf and said the students would be thrilled.

She made special mention of the fact that two recipients didn’t even know how to sew when they started the course two and a half years ago.

Both Nicholas and Chris made a point of describing in detail some of the work that went in to the garments, to a delighted audience.

A non-student, designer June Jarvis from Queensland won the People’s Choice Award, as well as the bridal and millinery award for a stunning gown that took three months to make.

“I’m beside myself. I don’t know what to say. Thank you to those who voted. It was a work of love and I still love it,” she said on acceptance of the People’s Choice.

She had made the gown for a dear friend for her wedding and said she had wanted to give it “one more run”

The gown took her three months to make and included seven layers of fabric and umpteenth petticoats. It also features ostrich feather and Swarovski crystals on the bodice which were hand-sewn.

“It was a joy to do it,”June said.

“I thought this could be my piece de resistance and I could stop now – but I don’t know if I will.”

The awards themselves won high praise from a variety of dignitaries in attendance.

UK international speaker and coach Eilidh Milnes, who flew in and to present the Designer of the Year and High Flyer Award (which includes flights to London, three weeks in the UK with Eilidh and a chance to be introduced to Manchester’s leading fashion and design experts), described Flair as “exceptional. It’s an extravaganza and I’m delighted to be here.

“It’s been wow – fantastic.”

Peter Chadwick, formerly of Chadwick Model Agency, and who has been a judge in the past, said this year was amazing.

“The standard has just escalated. The fabrics are so much better and the actual workmanship is so much better.”

He commended the fashion design schools.

“They’re getting the training in how to make a garment and make it saleable,” he said.

Another special guest was Kevin Williams from Destination NSW.

Flair was one of only 28 events in NSW to receive regional flagship funding this year and said the evening was stunning.

He also spoke positively about Flair’s future.

“Out of the 28 to receive funding, Flair was the only that focused on creative industries. That point of difference is one that will take it well into the future.”

Port Macquarie model Brooke Durrant was named the Flair Model of the Year

“She’s got a fabulous attitude and a beautiful heart and most importantly a special young lady,” said compere Pam Petherbridge.

When on stage later Nicholas Huxley said he had seen Brooke at the preview show the night before and has already booked her to do the school’s end of year fashion parade in Sydney.

“It’s a big break for her. It will be a fantastic experience.”

It was an impressive night of fashion and luxury with lots of colour, beautiful fabrics and exquisite workmanship.

As an extra touch, all the models wore 24 carat gold on their cheeks and compere Pam Petherbridge donned Swarovski crystals on her eyelashes.

You can see a collection of garments from the catwalk at the Manning Regional Art Gallery from tomorrow until Sunday August 19.

Tomorrow: What makes Flair the best in Australia.

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