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TAFE NSW shines on the catwalk

Both current and past participants have acknowledged the debt they owe to Fashion Design Studio and the opportunities it has facilitated

Australian fashion's festive season falls in early April each year, when Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week shines a spotlight on the nation's increasingly acclaimed designers. Many of those designers – including the likes of Alex Perry, Akira Isogawa, Lisa Ho and Nicky Zimmerman – are alumni of the Fashion Design Studio at TAFE's Sydney Institute, and each year the most promising of the current crop of students get a chance at their big break by taking part in Fashion Week's ‘The Innovators' show.

The Innovators is the brainchild of Fashion Design Studio head teacher Nicholas Huxley, who launched the program after realising almost all the designers featured at Fashion Week were products of his school. The show is named to celebrate the Fashion Design Studio's emphasis on innovation – as Huxley says, getting accepted into his institution "is not about how well you did in your HSC, it's about talent".

Australian fashion's bright young things

This year, Huxley tapped six of his school's most promising students – Inder Dhillon, Elissa McGowan, Leroy Nguyen, Vinh Nguyen, Paul Scott and Ying Yuan – to present their work (up from four as a result of the quality and response to last year's show). The six were in good company, with another TAFE alumni – Emma Mulholland – on display with her debut solo show.

Both current and past participants have acknowledged the debt they owe to Fashion Design Studio and the opportunities it has facilitated. "It builds a really strong work ethic," said Dion Lee after his Innovators show in 2009.

It's a sentiment shared by one of 2013's Innovators, Paul Scott: "The reputation it has for being such an amazing school, it speaks for itself. It's the best in Australia and it's world class."

Image credit: TAFE NSW - Sydney Institute, Fashion Design Studio