Jessica Edwards, former Kāpiti College student and fashion graduate from Whitecliffe Fashion Tech is a finalist in the Resene Colour of Fashion competition.
In any normal year one of the Whitecliffe Fashion Tech student's final projects is a collaboration with Resene, with the Resene Colour of Fashion designs opening four Resene Designer Runway shows at New Zealand Fashion Week.
But after Covid-19 caused the country's 20th New Zealand Fashion Week to be cancelled, the project needed to find another way to help launch the careers of this year's batch of fashion industry recruits.
Instead the Resene Colour of Fashion collection will debut on the runway in front of an audience of industry leaders, the young designers themselves, their tutors, family and friends at the Whitecliffe Fashion Shows in Auckland and Wellington.
The brief this year asked students to follow the design theme "New Beginnings".
It stated, "Bring the positive emotion you felt as we emerged out of lockdown to your design, moving out of darkness into light, entering a slower, kinder, gentler, lighter world, appreciating connection with others, and looking towards brighter days ahead".
Pulling the colour Resene Bowie out of a hat, Jessica found the colour easy to work with.
"We all pulled a number out of the hat and each number corresponded to a colour.
"I was really happy to have a blue, it's such a versatile colour.
"It's easy to get stuck in a certain mind set with colours you work with, so this pushed me out of the box.
"I had no idea what to do when I first pulled it out.
"In the end my design ended up being inspired by jellyfish, but at first I was looking at the universe, the Milky Way, the galaxy and that sort of thing."
Jessica's design is inspired primarily by the ocean's many varieties of jellyfish and stream dwelling betta fish found in East Asia.
Both the bodice shape, the movement of the dress skirt and the back of the dress are all purposely designed to resemble a jellyfish and its tendrils, tails and fins.
With her colour being named Resene Bowie, Jessica also drew inspiration from the name, naming her garment Lady Stardust after David Bowie's stage persona Ziggy Stardust.
"His messages were ones of live, peace, and understanding.
"These are the feelings and qualities we are nurturing in ourselves amidst this post Covid-19 New Zealand."
The project took around four weeks, one week for research and planning followed by three weeks of pattern making and sewing.
The first show will be held at the Auckland Town Hall on Thursday followed by the second show at Pipitea Marae in Thorndon Quay, Wellington on Friday.
The winner will be announced on the night and presented with a prize gifted by Resene, a sewing machine, pair of engraved shears and fabric vouchers to the value of $1000.
In addition, the 16 finalists' garments will appear on posters, giving a splash of colour to Auckland and Wellington streets in the lead-up to Christmas.
The process was cathartic for the students with the process of recalling their lockdown experiences releasing a flood of feelings that were sewn, pinned, pleated, embroidered and shaped into their garments.
The judges agreed that these garments were the finest examples of high quality design and construction the Resene Colour of Fashion project had seen in seven years.
Judge Karen Warman said, "With the challenges of 2020 and without New Zealand Fashion Week as a showcase, we're pleased we forged ahead after postponing twice.
"Every year we love seeing creative young people immerse themselves in their Resene colour and produce a stunning look.
"This year their work combined new elements including a new brief, their Resene colour, their lockdown experience, their fashion inspiration, the people who have influenced them most in their lives and the guidance of their tutors at Whitecliffe."