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Meet | 2020 MFW Student Award Finalists

A big congratulations to the Student Award finalists from 2020 Melbourne Fashion Week; Blaize Marshall, Donna Priseman, Luisa Marrollo and Tijen Bozdmir.

by The AFC

25 January 2021

A big congratulations to the Student Award finalists from 2020 Melbourne Fashion Week; Blaize Marshall, Donna Priseman, Luisa Marrollo and Tijen Bozdmir.

The award acknowledges the top four student collections which demonstrate excellence in research and development of fashion design, innovation, construction and potential to contribute to the future growth of the industry. We were thrilled to support the award alongside local label Arnsdorf, and City of Melbourne.

This week we catch up with the 4 finalists!


0_BLAIZE M - Blaize Sapphire Marshall.jpg


Box Hill Institute


I’ve always appreciated the transformative and mood-altering power of clothing and how our clothing choice allows such wonderful empowerment and self-expression; it is an endless outlet for creativity. As a kid I loved making outfits from garbage bags and bits of fabric from my Mum’s studio.  The loss of several significant people in my life, including my lovely Mum, was the impetus to return to this love of creating and led me to study the Bachelor of Fashion at Box Hill Institute.


My graduate collection was inspired by the remarkable diversity and beauty of Australian birdlife and, through celebration of their vibrant and joyful colours, seeks to highlight the inextricable link between their survival and that of humankind.

‘Cockatoo in a coal mine’ is a play on the saying ‘Canary in a coal mine’, the etymology of which refers to Canaries having been used to detect harmful amounts of methane and carbon monoxide by coal miners.  Birds are a barometer for nature as they reflect the state of the overall environment and indicate changes to biodiversity.  This biodiversity is crucial for healthy habitats, without which Earth will become uninhabitable for humans.

To minimise impact on the natural environment, only fibres that are natural, renewable, and biodegradable have been used for this collection, the feature fibre being Australian Merino wool.  The “Cockatoo in a coal mine” collection draws on the many wonderful properties of Australian Merino wool, showcasing the drape and movement of different weights and weaves.  I designed my own fabric print from the markings on the endangered South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, which I then had printed onto linen and Merino wool double crepe.  Australian Merino wool jersey, challis, crepe, and super fine suiting were piece dyed, as was some hemp/silk for trims.

The vision was to create a trans-seasonal collection of garments that can be layered and worn in different configurations to maximise their longevity. I wanted each piece to be colourful, joyful, striking and functional; all whilst being gentle on the environment, which is an abundant source of life and inspiration.


Creating my collection during lockdowns in 2020 had its share of challenges.  It is certainly a challenge trying to thread match piece-dyed fabrics via online shopping!  For me, the biggest challenge was not having access to the equipment, resources and facilities at the Box Hill Institute Design Hub.  I had to rethink a lot of the techniques and construction details I had planned to use in my collection due to the limitations of the lockdown.  I was really missing the industrial sewing machines after having two domestic machines stop working.  Thankfully I was able to loan one to get me across the line.

The time in lockdown brought many positives too.  I’m very fortunate to have a studio space at home and a large garden to take tea breaks in.  Without commuting I had more time to be in the creative flow, take a walk outside when I needed to, and listen to music as loud as I wanted whilst working without punishing anyone’s ears with my dodgy singing.

It was really inspiring to see how people pulled together and encouraged each other during lockdown.  The comradery amongst my classmates and the support of my teachers was wonderful.  I feel the pandemic has brought into clearer focus what is truly important.


I’m excited for the changes happening in the industry with a broader adoption of the triple bottom line approach.  Local production is something I am passionate about, so it is encouraging that there’s an ever-growing number of brands manufacturing locally.

Due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns in 2020, internships weren’t possible, so I am eager to connect with like-minded people in the industry and gain some work experience.


Believe in what you do and be authentic.  I feel that the passion and joy you have shines through in your work.


1.       Big Design Market for local designers and makers.

2.       Wardrobe Crisis Podcast with Clare Press is always inspiring

3.       The Fabric Store – for beautiful linens and premium merino.

4.       Buttonmania – for unique buttons and bespoke covered buttons and belts

5.       Arnsdorf – A local label whose values I admire as much as their clothes.  Beautiful, timeless, considered garments made ethically in Melbourne.

Donna Priseman Student Runway MFW297.jpg


The Masters Institute of Creative Education


I have been working in the Beauty Industry for the past 20 years and thoroughly enjoyed my work. I currently have my own Beauty Business but have always loved the Fashion Industry, reading fashion magazines, attending runway shows and special events. I’ve always had a creative nature, enjoyed sewing and had a passion to learn how to create beautiful clothes. I began with a Garment Construction Course at the Melbourne Fashion Institute and continued on to The Masters Institute of Creative Education to complete 2nd and 3rd Year Garment Creation.


‘Chrysalis’ delivers a highly feminine debut 2020 womenswear collection.

 The collection captures the mesmerising ethereal beauty of the butterfly and its transformational journey from egg to caterpillar into a butterfly. These three phases are the embodiment of the Chrysalis collection; fused with design influences exploring the fluidity and movement of ballet dancers. Exploring themes of determination and strength that all ballet dancers possess to endure the physical vigour of their art. Their art requires strength and durability yet they appear effortlessly elegant and graceful.

The Chrysalis explores the notion that things are not always what they seem and we must look within to find our inner strength and identity. The ‘Chrysalis’ collection explores draped designs, uniquely created for the individual for special occasion/event wear. Distinctive layers, exaggerated voluminous proportions, structure and embellishments blend in harmony with soft flowing fabrics with textures of lace and net carefully selected and crafted together to create soft curves and hidden structures that encase the body, providing a touch of drama.

A monochromatic colour palette of black and ivory set the tone for a dramatic collection of statement styles that honour a woman’s strength and fragility in equal balance, redefined silhouettes are balanced by nuances of colour and textures of light transparent layers. Incorporating the art of tambour and hand beading techniques. Chrysalis unveils a collection which highlights our transformational ability; a message to embrace the idea that true beauty is hidden beneath. This symbolism of strength and transformation creates a collection which empowers woman to reinvent themselves and reveal meaningful and distinctive pieces which are unique pieces of art created from the finest cloth developed with couture inspired craftsmanship.


Creating my collection during lockdown was an extremely challenging task, all classes took place online and I worked at home on the stand to create each look. I think this year has made me stop and realise what is important and to never take anything for granted anymore. I learnt a lot during this time including taking an online course in Tambour Beading which I thoroughly enjoyed and wish to include in my future designs.

The lockdown was also a time for pause and reflection and allowed me time to really consider my design visions and personal visions, what do I plan to stand for as an emerging designer? I plan to stand for quality clothes rather than mass production and excess, made locally with care. To be mindful of the fabrics I use and to minimise waste, using offcuts to create embellishments or use them towards other projects.


To pursue a career in the Fashion Industry. I am currently seeking an internship which utilises my skills in garment construction, hand beading and embellishment techniques. I would like to work alongside a reputable Melbourne based designer/brand. I plan to continue practicing my skills and learning new techniques and expand my knowledge of the Fashion industry.  My long-term goal is to have my own made to measure bespoke business, creating beautiful fitting garments for the individual.


Never give up, even when things get tough, trust the design and construction process and push through to achieve your dreams. You are capable of much more than you realise!


House of Adorn, The Remnant Warehouse, Silkworld, Darn Cheap Fabrics, The Fabric Store

Elie Saab, Jason Grech, Delphine Genin, Rebecca Share, Julie Goodwin, Ralph & Russo, Givenchy, Marchesa, Toni Maticevski.



Kangan Institute


I always loved experimenting and making things as a kid, My nonna’s taught me to knit when I was 7, in primary school I started making my own beaded jewellery, I learned ceramics from my dad, and cake decorating from my Aunty, I chose all the art subjects in high school but never knew where I was going. I loved it! But I had no direction.

I ended up going to America after high school where I worked at a summer camp teaching Ceramics, I loved it so much, it was an incredible learning experience for me! 2 years later when I came back to Melbourne, I thought about how I could use these random skill to create something wearable. I didn’t know the first thing about pattern making, or anything about the fashion industry. So I thought, let’s learn something new and see where it takes me. I knew that as long as I was creating, and using my hands, I was going to love it!


The Lipari collection is built around and inspired by beautiful Italian handmade textiles; crochet, embroidery and drawn thread work. Produced in an orphanage by women on Isola di Lipari, off the coast of Sicily, these textile artists of yesteryear used their skills to make table cloths, table runners, decorative pillowcases and flat sheets.

In the 1960’s both of my Nonna’s migrated from Italy to Australia. They came here with nothing and they had to be resourceful - they grew all their own fruits and vegetables, they made their own clothes, they could knit, they could crochet the list goes on. This entirely up-cycled collection pays homage to my family and to all the young women who created the incredible textiles passed down from the Lipari orphanage.

My intention as a designer was to breathe new life into these delicate hand crafts by re- purposing and over embellishing them to create new possibilities through couture construction methods and sewing techniques. During Covid-19 while most things were out of reach, the ability to sew and create, no matter my surroundings or limitations, was endless. This collection is proof that anyone can create a sustainable collection, you just need to get creative and be resourceful by using what you have available. This is the key to fashion’s future.


The pandemic, was a really great time for me to reflect on myself and my work. I don’t think my collection would have been what it was if it wasn’t for the pandemic. I had the luxury of time, and so I gave as much time as I could to this collection. I experimented with many embellishment techniques and was grateful that I had the time to pull them off. And taking a break? What is that? I could not stop! I think I would have gone crazy if I didn’t have this collection to keep me busy over the lockdown. I was completely focused on what I was making and had no other life stresses to worry about. I thought, this will probably never happen again in my lifetime, so I made the most of it.

It was difficult at times, especially when receiving help from our mentors over zoom, we had to invent new ways to communicate and problem solve. All in all it was an enriching experience, I was forced to do my own learning and this only helped build confidence in my abilities.


I want to work in Fashion sustainability, it’s my passion and I want a job that will make a difference for someone somewhere. Where there are problems, there are opportunities for change. My dream is to help shape the future of this industry and make it a better place for people to work, and for nature to thrive.

Myself and a good friend are in the midst of starting an up-cycled clothing brand. I feel like there are still so many things I would love to explore, and having this brand is going to give me the freedom to keep creating while also learning and gaining experience as I go.


If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from this year, it’s that we have all been moving so fast, everyone is busy all the time and it’s overwhelming, we all have so many responsibilities and distractions. You need to slow down, It’s okay to put things on hold. Put yourself and your passions first! If you love pattern making, or sewing or designing; let that be your focus, obsess over it, learn as much as you can and give it your time. Nothing else matters, do what makes you happy!


1. Bernade'e Banner (YouTube) - She has videos on historical fashion and sewing techniques, it’s very educational.

2.Wardrobe Crisis podcast by Clare Press - She is a true inspiration and provides information and insight into so many facets of the fashion industry.

3.Zero waste pa'ern design - Timo Rissanen and Holly McQuillan.

4. Jimmy Bu'ons - 375 George St, Fitzroy VIC 3065 (Jimmy has literally everything you could ever need, great service and a student discount).

5. CFDA Materials Index - super helpful if you want to learn about new fibres and technology

6. Bliss Foster (YouTube) - Advice for young Fashion designers



RMIT University, School of Fashion and Textiles


I am very lucky in the sense of never doubting fashion to be my path. In school when I was  asked what career I wanted to pursue I always confidently said ‘to move to New York and become a famous Fashion Designer’. Although the reality of ‘moving to New York and becoming famous’ is no longer in my priorities, the foundation of my teenage aspirations remains the same.

I decided studying fashion at University would be the most beneficial way to develop my craft, so I applied for the Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) at RMIT University straight out of high school.  I was initially rejected from the course so I settled for the Associate Degree in Fashion Design & Technology still at RMIT University. After the completion of that course, which I now know was incredibly beneficial to my construction skills, I was finally accepted into the Honours program at RMIT. With the knowledge I had acquired from the previous 2 and a half years of study I delved into the conceptual part of fashion design. Six years later here I am, grateful and understanding of the path I took.


I have always looked up to my Mother, a free spirited and strongly loving woman and one who has always been connected to her faith. As a child I would mimic her, pray alongside her and one day hope to understand the words she recited to the all-powerful Allah. I too looked up to my Grandmother, but always wondered why she was seemingly more religious than my Mother. Through reflection of my own religious practise I have now realised that I am less religious than them both.

This collection is an enquiry into the generational diminishment of religious faith within my family and an insight into my contemporary Islamic practise today. In this collection the intersection of the Burqa and the Bikini is a way of exploring these themes. I was influenced by archival family photographs and seeing images of my Nene (Grandma) and my Mother in swimwear far less modest than I had previously imagined.


The pandemic but more specifically the lockdown we faced in Melbourne gave me the opportunity to solidify a routine. It benefited the consistency of working on my collection without the distractions of normal life. I was forced to be extremely organised when considering lead times for materials - I lost the luxury of running down to the store last minute for anything which is a classic scenario for fashion students. Everything was planned and precise which instilled sustainability in my practise and will be a critical tool for me moving forward. It has also given me the confidence that there is a place for local business and I believe our community has a new found appreciation for this, post-pandemic.


After a successful Honours year I have inspiration and momentum that needs to be harnessed and channelled into my own practise. Therefore I am working on launching my partnership womenswear label called è tijen which is due to launch later this year (2021). The brand has a focus on swimwear and sustainability and will include pieces from my Honours collection.


Be consistent! If you put in the work every single day whether it be for an hour or 8 hours, you will reap the rewards. Also remember not to compare yourself to anyone because there is a place for all creatives in the industry and your ideas are worthy, don’t water them down for anyone.


1.  Blake Barns - My mentor

2. Jimmy Buttons, Fitzroy, VIC

3. The Fabric Store, Fitzroy, VIC

4. Next State Printing, Abbotsford, VIC

5. Rathdowne Fabrics, Brunswick, VIC

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