Double win ‘amazing’for university student

Spiritual . . . This year’s Mataura Licensing Trust Award of Excellence winner Sheetol Chawla, of Auckland, with her Humanity Saturated in Spirituality collection. The collection of layered, cotton-based garments is also this year’s Mackersey Property Collections open section winner. PHOTO: MICHAEL CURREEN

A fashion design student is coming out of this year’s MLT Hokonui Fashion Design Awards with a lot more than she ever hoped for.

Auckland University of Technology student Sheetol Chawla was announced as the winner of the Mataura Licensing Trust Award of Excellence at the show’s gala night at the Gore Town & Country Club on Saturday.

This year’s sell-out event had attracted 188 entries with 258 garments, 1300 people attending across both Friday and Saturday nights.

Mrs Chawla said her main reason for entering was just to get more feedback on her work from those in the fashion industry.

‘‘I didn’t think it would go that far. I didn’t even dream about it. It’s an amazing feeling.’’

She had aspirations to launch her own label one day, she said.

Huffer founder Steve Dunstan, who was on the judging panel, said while it took hours to decide all the winners, Mrs Chawla’s collection clearly stood out.

‘‘Seeing it tonight and just seeing the energy of the room and the celebration of this beautiful work was touching.’’

Her garments carried a lot of meaning and integrity, Mr Dunstan said.

‘‘We were exposed to some of the narratives and that’s what I really like in a collection is the story behind it.’’

Mrs Chawla said the garments were inspired byspirituality and how that might look if it were tangible.

‘‘I named this collection Humanity Saturated in Spirituality.’’

The primarily cotton-based garments consisted of many layers and were put together utilising a variety of techniques, she said.

‘‘My concept was sustainability.’’

Mrs Chawla’s garments also won her the Mackersy Property Open Collections Award.

Yuki Man, of Samuel Marsden Collegiate inWellington, came out on top in the school section, winning the Bernina School Award of Excellence.

This year’s Heather Paterson Memorial Trophy Award for Best Southland Designer went to school section participant May Dyson, of Tuatapere.

The home-schooled pupil entered a patterned paper dress with a gold masquerade mask, which also won her the Cardrona Distillery People’s Choice Award, a new category where the winner was decided by members of the audience.

Mr Dunstan said he was ‘‘especially blown away’’ by the school section garments.

‘‘It’s refreshing to know that we have talent coming through in this industry.’’

Awards committee chairwoman Bronnie Grant said everything came together well.

‘‘It was awesome. The models looked amazing, the garments were fantastic. We had a full house.

‘‘The new Narrative award and People’s Choice award worked out well. That’s always good when you introduce new things and they work.’’

She was already looking forward to next year’s awards.

‘‘We’ve got our colour theme, which is silver because it’s our 35th year.’’