A URALLA teenager has reigned supreme at the 2022 Fleece to Fashion awards on Saturday night.
Uralla State School student Dechen Kandro took out the MJ Bale Supreme Award for her winning design - a pant-suit, cape and clouche hat, which were all made entirely from Australian Merino wool.
The 15-year-old also claimed first prize in the Winterbourne Pastoral Company Secondary School Award.
More than 350 people flocked to the black-tie event at the iconic Deeargee Woolshed at Gostwyck, near Uralla in the state's Northern Tablelands, to see the latest fashions as well as some of the best products the Australian Merino wool industry has to offer.
Fleece to Fashion board director and local wool grower Liz Foster said Ms Kandro was awarded the top prize for her "head-to-toe" ensemble, which Mrs Foster said was beautifully made.
"The judges were blown away by Dechen's entry - not only was it a stunning outfit, the fact it was made by a young student who started sewing at the age of nine, to improve her skills has been taking sewing classes with a professional dress-maker locally in Armidale," Mrs Foster said.
"Dechen wants to be a fashion designer - she wants to go onto bigger and better things. Winning the 2022 Fleece to Fashion MJ Bale Supreme Award has put the spotlight on Dechen's immense capability and ingenuity at a very young age and we wish her every success with her talent."
Ms Kandro said she had been inspired by Merino wool because it was "very special fibre" to work with.
"I took my inspiration for the pant-suit from Chanel but I wanted to make something than could be dressed up for a special occasion or be worn on an everyday basis and I also included a felt hat, which is something I had never designed or made before, which was a lot of fun," she said.
The annual event, which has not been able to held in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attracted visitors from across the state and from as far away as Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Mildura.
Visitors not only enjoyed seeing some of the best fashion within the Merino wool industry, but also take in the Deeargee Station iconic octagonally-shaped woolshed, as well as celebrate upcoming fashion designers embracing merino wool in their collections.
"The Deeargee Woolshed all it up for our gala event was truly something to behold," Mrs Foster said.
"We had a bold vision to literally deliver the concept of 'fleece to fashion' in its purest form and thanks to the Sutherland family, owners of Deeargee Station, who have allowed us to open their shed to the public for the Awards, the entire production has been a tremendous showcase of wool, fashion, in an iconic venue in our local area."
The awards were judged by Australian fashion designers Akira Isogawa, former designer for RM Williams and Country Road Jonathan Ward, and fashion journalist and media personality Melissa Hoyer.
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