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Outback inspires student to win top wool design award

Terry Sim, August 4, 2014
2014 Australasian Young Designer Awards winner, Jessica Nicholls, right, with Ashleigh Rumble modelling her winning wool gown.

2014 Australasian Young Designer Awards winner, Jessica Nicholls, right, with Ashleigh Rumble modelling her winning wool gown.

South Australia’s outback landscape has inspired a young South Australian student designer to a win in the 2014 Australasian Young Designer Wool Awards.

TAFE SA third year fashion design student Jessica Nicholls, 21, grew up in Woomera in South Australia’s remote north-west.

With a design she laser-cut herself at a 3D printing and fabrication workshop, the student won the $10,500 ACE Radio Handbury Scholarship in Hamilton last night.

The scholarship will enable her to do a two-week summer course in fashion design at the Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Italy, valued at $10,500.

The overwhelmed designer said the design of her 80 per cent wool formal evening gown, with its distinctive fish-tail, was inspired by the outback landscape around Woomera.

“I started designing in my home town of Woomera and that’s where I really got the inspiration for it from.

“It used a lot of curves to accentuate the woman’s figure,” she said.

“It’s amazing, I’m just so overwhelmed.

“Wool is such a fabulous fibre to work with, really versatile, I think I will use it a lot more.”

Jessica did the laser cutting and etching for her design after just one lesson at Fab Lab in Adelaide.

“So I put my pattern in and laser cut the dress.

“They were very interested in it as well because they do a lot of woodwork and metalwork, they don’t really do garments at all.”

It was Jessica’s first attempt at the young designer awards, run each year at Hamilton’s Sheepvention expo. She was one of several TAFE SA students that swelled entries in the competition to 75.

Jessica said she will travel to work in London after finalising her end-of-year collection at TAFE SA.

“I really want to get into bridal bespoke wear.”

The placegetters included:

Evening formal – Jessica Nicholls, TAFE SA, 1st; Erik Yvon, RMIT, 2nd; Shannon Harding, TAFE SA, 3rd.

Streetwear – Erik Yvon, RMIT, 1; Petar Prodanovic, TAFE SA, 2; Zoe Burrows, Ballarat Grammar, 3.

Racewear – Jessie Coote, Gordon TAFE, 1; Gemma Cassar, TAFE SA, 2; Stephanie Bull, Kangan Institute, 3.

Corporate – Erik Yvon, RMIT, 1; Fazilet Cayli, RMIT, 2; Carla Versace, Gordon TAFE, 3.

Fantasy/Theatrical – Casey von Einem, TAFE SA, 1; Stephanie Cartledge, Ballarat Grammar, 2 (best secondary school); Meg Parry, Whitehouse, 3; Madison Prime, TAFE SA, HM.

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