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EIT Students to Showcase Designs at Swept-Up Fashion Show

November 16, 2008

After 17 years in banking, Tricia Johnson is unleashing her creative side as she gears up for the glamour finale of a life-changing year’s study – a fashion show at the Hawke’s Bay Opera House. 

From Hastings, Tricia sought a change in career direction following the birth of her second child.  “I wanted to get out of the house, learn new skills and have slightly shorter hours that would work in with raising a family.”

Last year, she dipped her toe in the water with a three-month introductory fashion programme at EIT Hawke’s Bay’s Flaxmere Learning Centre.  Up until then, all her sewing experience had been at intermediate school. 

“I wouldn’t have known how to read a pattern,” she laughs.  “I would have known where to buy it – and that would have been it.”

Hooked by the introductory course, Tricia signed up to do the Certificate in Fashion Apparel at EIT.  It’s proved a challenging undertaking, juggling home life and homework, and learning such new skills as pattern-making and sewing.

Design is Tricia’s favourite subject.  She loves working with fabrics and colours and drawing up ideas for garments, so she’s looking forward to creating her masterpiece – “probably a cocktail dress that is lacy and pretty” – for the fashion show Material-istic on November 21.

Having brainstormed the design for tickets and a poster to publicise the show, students have turned their focus to ‘portfolio’ garments, which are aimed at demonstrating what they have learned over the year.

“We make the garments to fit ourselves,” Tricia explains. “That way we learn how the body works, what shapes suit.  And to perfect the look on the night, we will have the help of dresssers, make-up artists and hairdressers.  It’s going to be a very streamlined show.”

The students will model their portfolio pieces and many of the other garments they have made.  That shouldn’t prove too daunting for Tricia, who helped dress and modelled at last year’s show.

The swish venue represents a step-up for the annual fashion event which, for the first time, is being held off-campus to help launch an enhanced two-year certificate programme to be offered by institute from next year.

“The programme aims to produce excellent designers capable of establishing their own business, as well as the skilled pattern makers and machinists who can construct the clothing, either in a small business or in a larger commercial environment,” says EIT’s Head of School for Art and Design, Ian Stuart.

Tricia has already decided that’s for her.  Then she will study for a diploma in marketing with a view to her longer-term goal – “to work with designers and what they want and to market it out to their client bases.”

Graduates of the Certificate in Fashion Apparel programme can head themselves in many different directions, working as designers and fashion buyers, setting up their own businesses at home or making clothes for themselves, their family and friends.

“I’ve definitely been learning and growing,” Tricia says of her year.  “It’s been a fun and interesting time.”