Northland Bernina Fashion Awards lure young designers

Missing lunchtimes, staying at school late and heading into school during holidays is what a group of Whangarei students have been enduring as they prepare for the Northland Bernina Fashion Awards.

Megan King, a Year 12 student at the school, has been entering the awards since she was in Year 7 and has placed in several categories over the years. She said the awards provided a good platform for young designers.

"For us, it's also good for our end of year portfolio [at school] and it's good experience so that you can move to national competitions," she said.

When asked how much time was spent preparing for the awards the girls looked at each other, laughed and said "lots".

"Most years you have school holidays before pre-judging so most of [the holidays] you spend the weeks in class - and after school and lunch," said Year 13 student Carla Gray.

Renee Topp, a Year 11 student, said despite spending months getting the designs ready for the competition, it was enjoyable.

"It is quite fun, you think of stuff and then put it down and create something," she said.

Both Renee and Megan seemed sure they wanted to study fashion design after finishing high school. Carla said she was thinking about doing textile design.

Sue Hill, Bernina Northland committee member, said the calibre of entries this year was "just amazing".

"I saw most of [the designs] at prejudging and they were absolutely amazing."

Ms Hill said this year's competition also featured models young and old.

"Our youngest is a 3-year-old and we have a grandmother who is modelling for her granddaughter - it's kind of neat," she said.

She said new features this year included the introduction of the Steampunk category which encourages designers to take some Victoriana, throw in a bit of science fiction and the odd cog and spring.

Tickets to the Bernina Fashion Awards s being held tomorrow are available from

The awards will be held at the Forum North Exhibition Hall, from 6pm.

- Northern Advocate

By Mikaela Collins