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Ulster's Laura Walks Off With Fashion Prize

25 March 2010

University of Ulster student Laura Abraham (right) with her winning design being modelled at the Spring Into Summer fashion show. 

University of Ulster fashion student Laura Abraham was named the winner of a competition to work with top international designer Vera Wang last night. 

The talented second year student from Portadown, whose silk outfit caught the eye of judges, will be jetting off to London to work with the designer’s top couturier, Kiko Randon. 

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have won, it’s such a fantastic opportunity – I’m speechless,” said Laura last night. 

“It’s very exciting to be associated with a name like Vera Wang and to get the opportunity to further develop my pattern engineering skills with her head couturier in London.” 

Twelve undergraduates from the BDes Hons Textiles and Fashion course in the School of Art and Design were offered the opportunity to compete for the short placement. 

Vera Wang is best known for her fabulous wedding dresses worn by A List stars like Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham, but her name is a global brand whose luxury products include best selling perfumes. 

The local students were asked to design and produce an outfit which were showcased on the catwalk last night at the high profile ‘Magners Light Spring Into Summer’ fashion event St George’s Market, Belfast. 

The aspiring young designers were given a theme – ‘Light and Soul’ - and a pastel coloured palette to work from. Senior Lecturer in Fashion Design, Janet Coulter, says being given the opportunity to take part in a big showcase event like ‘Magners Light Spring into Summer’ is vitally important for young designers. 

“The students’ designs are all unique and highly original and they all stood out on the catwalk. The students conducted themselves well on such a prestigious platform with other established designers. 

“It’s very important for fashion design students to collaborate on live projects and to exhibit their work in front of a real audience. It’s a very different experience from the confines of a studio. 

“In a competition like this students also learn what it’s like to work to tight deadlines and they have to think about both the innovative and commercial side of fashion designing. They created their own fabrics through knit and work with the digital printing, heat setting techniques and laser cutting to create innovative and unique collections. 

“Laura will learn invaluable lessons from top Italian couturiers who are by Royal Appointment and that’s something that money can’t buy.” 

“In the School of Art and Design we endeavour to work with external collaborators and sponsors each year. With the current economic climate, finding work placements can be challenging, but we always manage to secure excellent placement thanks to the high calibre of our students. 

“Our past graduates have gone on to work with a range of companies such as Adidas, Boden, Reebok and Matalan."
The 12 students who took part in the competition were:  Laura Abraham, from Portadown, Sarah McWilliams from Carrickfergus,  Jennie Brown from Bangor, Ashlee Coburn from Magherafelt, Saba Akram from south Belfast, Rachel Shaw from Dundalk, Jody Cosby-Beck from Rathfriland, Toni Doherty from Derry, Grainne Campbell from Newry, Gillian Fisher from Bangor,  Laura Benson from Lisnaskea, Kimberley Dunlop from Coleraine.