The supreme winner at last year's helloworld Wearable Creations fashion design awards in Central Hawke's Bay is in a race against the clock.

Waipawa designer Debbie Hart is desperate to defend the supreme and wool section titles she won with her felted wool garment, Gaia's Grief, at last year's Mother Nature-themed awards, the third held at the CHB Municipal Theatre

But with the entry cut-off date for this year's Movie Magic themed event fast approaching, Debbie was last week working on three creations, and uncertain which section she would eventually enter.

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Fashion on the menu


Still, that was typical of how she worked, said the 54-year-old designer.

"I am never working on just one project at a time, I am always doing at least three or four garments because I get bored very easily. I've got the attention span of a gnat."

Debbie was also having to deal with the "huge distraction" of selling her house, where she has taken over three rooms to create garments for her Debhart Designs label.

But she was determined at least one of her designs would be entered by the August 20 cut-off date as she attempted to defend her Wearable Creations titles.

"I can't help but see it as a battle. I am hugely competitive," said Hart, who described her win last year as emotional.

"I cried. I didn't expect to be, but I was really emotional.

"As a designer, when you put yourself out there, it's huge. And I'd been on stage so many times before, but never as Debbie Hart," said the designer, who is a regular cast member with Waipukurau Little Theatre and appeared in the Waipawa M&D Society's recent production of The Sound of Music.

Debbie said her winning entry last year, Gaia's Grief, which represented humans' destruction of the environment, was an example of the one-off, hand-knitted creations she specialised in for her Debhart Designs label, which she started in 2010 after studying fashion apparel at EIT in Napier from 2008-2009.

"Everything I do is a one-off. And I knit by hand and everything is free-form, so I make it up as I go along.

"Freedom from control is generally my thought process. So when I finish a garment, then I make up my pattern, and take a photo of it so I don't repeat it. I can work from a pattern, but I choose not to."

Last year's competition attracted 47 entries, from CHB and around the central North Island.

Tamatea High student Jessica Grant won the supreme award for student designers and the Year 9-11 section with her creation, Marakihau - Sea Taniwha of Aotearoa.

Adult designer sections in this year's helloworld Wearable Creations include novice, Paper Perfection for garments made from paper, Trash to Treasure for creations made of recyclable materials, and Lamb Country for garments made from wool but no other fibre.

Fantasia is a wide-open category with no restrictions apart from the competition theme of Movie Magic.

South Pacific is for designs reflecting New Zealand and Polynesian heritage, while there are four section prizes up for grabs for school-age designers.

Expecting stiff competition again this year, Debbie said, "Regardless if one wins or not, I just want to show them in the best possible way."

Entries will be judged at an afternoon show on September 2 before the $300 section winners are announced at the evening performance that night at the CHB Municipal Theatre where the $1000 supreme designer winner will also be revealed.

Entry costs $20 for adult designers and $5 for students. Entries close August 20. To enter online and for event information, go to