For her whole adult life EIT graduate Denise Lahood wanted to study fashion. “But then,” she smiles, “life got in the way.” The 55-year-old got married, had two kids, now 17 and 20 years old, and bought the Central FM radio station in Waipukurau which kept her busy for the years that followed.
Sewing and designing continued being “only” a hobby. Denise made her children’s and her own clothes copying styles from fashion catalogues.
However, as her circumstances changed, Denise, then 54 years old, thought that it was time for herself now, “It was time to turn my attention to the things I’d always loved.”
Denise enrolled into a New Zealand Diploma in Fashion at EIT. “If I couldn’t have studied in Hawke’s Bay, I probably wouldn’t have done it but I moved to Napier and gave it a go. Interestingly enough Denise wasn’t the only mature student in class. “Five of the 15 students were over 48 years. I was pretty happy not to be the only one.”
“Studying was the best thing I’ve ever done,” declares Denise, now with her graduation diploma in hand. “It changed my life.”
“The tutors were fantastic and specialised in so many different areas. “My favourite part was definitely creating garments that I’d designed, but I also enjoyed learning new skills like the computer component, something that I found daunting in the beginning. We had to set up an E-Portfolio including our work and pieces, which made me get into programmes like Photoshop and Illustrator. I learned all these skills and that’s fantastic.”
Designing pieces from scratch was a fascinating process for Denise, creating patterns for her looks, choosing fabrics, sewing and finally taking it to a real-life runway show.
Denise remembered a trip to Auckland with the class. “Visiting a lot of different fashion businesses made me realise how multi-faceted the fashion industry is. We also learned, however, that the fashion industry can potentially have a negative impact too.”
Denise doesn’t want to be part of the fast fashion industry, “It’s horrible when people buy loads of cheap stuff and don’t even wear it because it doesn’t matter whether you leave it in your cupboard or chuck it out.”
During her diploma, Denise had to create a three-piece-outfit made from second hand op-shop clothes. “I loved that project and it inspired me to the point that I would like to create my own sustainable clothes line.”
As for the future, Denise has more exciting projects in the pipeline. Being passionate about travelling Denise bought a campervan and will travel around the South Island. “The plan is to be on the road for two years and house sit. I joined two online house sitting communities and I got to know people who do it as a full-time job.”
“Finally I have the permission to go and I will go. It’s out of my comfort zone but it’s now or never.”