Whangārei Girls' High School students Iris Metcalfe and Ella Jeffery with their designs which won a national fashion competition. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Whangārei Girls' High School students Iris Metcalfe and Ella Jeffery with their designs which won a national fashion competition. Photo/Michael Cunningham

One design is inspired by a form of modern Japanese dance, the other is a red and black dance costume representing feelings of being trapped.

These two costumes have earned the designers - Whangārei Girls' High School students Iris Metcalfe and Ella Jeffery - first place in their respective categories at the Home Economics and Technology Teachers Association of New Zealand (HETTANZ) Student Fashion Awards.

Metcalfe, Year 11, entered the senior wearable arts category with her theatrical costume inspired by butoh - a form of modern Japanese dance where dancers wear white body paint, while Jeffery, Year 13, entered the senior creative fashion design category with her red and black dance costume.

Both students said they were not sure how they would go when they entered the awards.

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"I had no idea, because I didn't know the standard. I did have a little hope though because I placed first in my category for the Bernina Awards," Metcalfe said.

"I was really surprised about placing first. It's really exciting and it has made me more confident about my sewing and my designs," said Jeffery.

The students' portfolios and garments were sent to Wellington to compete against schools from around the country. The winners were announced late last month.

Jeffery said she started designing her garment, which represents being trapped and controlled in society, at the start of the year.

"I loved seeing my garment finished, it was really exciting for it to finally be finished as I spent a lot of time out of class and on weekends making it."

Meanwhile, Metcalfe said her costume took most of the year to complete. She said she focused on the detail - like bead work throughout the upper body - rather than the silhouette.

She used coffee and teabags to dye material, beads cut from old hair ties, and leather she found in the attic.

"I'm especially proud of the corset because I'd never made one before. Actually I've never made a full garment before, so there's that."

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Their teacher Rachael Pedersen said another student who came first in the wearable art section three years ago was now studying fashion design in Amsterdam.

"Iris and Ella both had dynamic folios to support their garments and their designs are also innovative and different to things we have seen before. It is exciting and rewarding watching students bring their designs to life and then winning in local and national competitions," she said.

Jeffery is studying an early childhood education degree next year while Metcalfe is not sure what she would like to do when she finishes school.