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(Left) On top of the world . . . Designer Vicki Taylor-Blair, who won the MLT award of excellence at the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards on Saturday night, chats to supporters at the end of the event. (Right) Beautiful design . . . This design by Vicki Taylor-Blair, of Dunedin, won the MLT award of excellence at the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards. More photos pages 10 and 11. PHOTOS: MARGARET PHILLIPS

A Dunedin hairstylist with a burning passion for fashion won top honours at the 30th Hokonui Fashion Design Awards on Saturday.

Vicki Taylor-Blair won the Mataura Licensing Trust award of excellence for her entry which won the open night life section.

The cream-coloured garment, complete with intricate flowers along the front and long pink gloves, was a hit among the audience.

After she was announced as the winner, Mrs Taylor-Blair’s friends erupted in a deafening cheer as she took to the catwalk with the model wearing her design.

Mrs Taylor-Blair said taking home the big prize was “amazing, just bloody amazing”.

“It’s a real buzz, a big adrenaline rush.”

However, her favourite moment of the night was seeing her garment as a full package on a model.

“It’s just such a great feeling to see everything come together. That’s the real prize.

“I have to thank the models, the make-up and the hair stylists for making it look amazing,” she said.

Mrs Taylor-Blair is no stranger to the Hokonui Fashion Awards after entering for the past four years.

Last year, she won the menswear award and was highly commended in the wool section.

“It takes about a year for me to get everything designed and put together properly.”

Five years ago, Mrs Taylor-Blair took up sewing lessons and she has been designing ever since.

“I haven’t been to design school or anything like that – it’s just a passion, an extension from my hair-styling,” she said.

Judge Doris de Pont said she had judged at the awards three times and this year’s event was the best yet.

She was amazed at the selection of different fabrics used in the garments.

Ms de Pont paid tribute to the community for hosting the event.

“It draws on a whole community to get this thing up and running,” Ms de Pont said.

She noted the schools sections were an extremely valuable vehicle for budding designers to experience the fashion world.

Massey University fashion lecturer Sue Prescott, a new judge in the line-up, was impressed with quality of entries in the schools section.

Fellow judge Francis Hooper, of World, said it was a particularly valuable competition as designers were just in their own world and seldom saw what other designers were creating.

He described the garments entered in the schools section as “incredible”, adding the fact the young designers were not inhibited by fashion rules was refreshing.

“They just do it – that’s the brilliance. They break the rules and don’t know they are breaking the rules.”