Emerging designers rewarded for their creativity and skill

Nov 10, 2023

TAFE SA fashion student Lila Weidenbach at the RSVP Ready display.

An outfit featuring pastel hues and a floral fabric capturing the essence of spring has won first prize in the RSVP Ready Fashion Design Awards.

The awards, an initiative of Burnside Village, were open to students in TAFE SA’s Advanced Diploma of Fashion who were asked to create an outfit for the spring/summer season that was suitable for a special occasion.

Shortlisted designs were displayed at Burnside Village over 10 days and a panel of judges awarded three prizes, plus visitors to the centre were encouraged to vote for their favourite outfit.

Lila Weidenbach received first prize for her design, which features a structured bodice and a full skirt embellished with flowers.

Second place was awarded to Joanita Nakiyemba, who also won the Consumers’ Choice vote, while Forough Farradin’s design was third.

Describing the competition as an “incredible experience”, Lila says she enjoyed the opportunity to push her sewing skills and was determined to not compromise on technique or style.

“The design involved a lot of hand sewing and learning different techniques with advice from my lecturers,” she says.

The outfit was inspired by the delicate skirt fabric, which Lila bought while in Year 12, and her keen interest in corsetry.

“I love corsetry for its historical significance and the structure it brings to an outfit,” she says.

“I’d been wanting to make stays for a while, they flatten the figure rather than provide shape and it creates a different silhouette.

“The stays were constructed from 94 pieces of individually cut boning and each piece had to be sanded into the perfect shape to fit into the coordinating channel.”

The judges commended her “creativity and attention to detail”, noting the “beautifully crafted corset”.

Designs exploring contrasts in structure, texture and eras are of special interest to Lila and she is presently working on her graduate collection which will be influenced by two distinct environments – Arkaroola in the Flinders Ranges and American city life.


Inspired by her African heritage, Consumers’ Choice winner Joanita Nakiyemba was determined to create “something special and unique” for the RSVP Ready Fashion Design Awards.

“Back home we go all out for events and we dress fancy, we’re very competitive about it, and that was my inspiration,” she says.

Joanita’s bold magenta pink two-piece outfit includes a strapless dress and a sheer cape embellished with 143 handmade flowers.

The sheer cape, which proved popular with Burnside Village customers, has approximately 3000 petals making up the floral decoration, which Joanita concedes was stressful but ultimately worth the effort.

“Being part of the competition was amazing and an eye-opening experience and I’m really grateful to the people who voted for me because it has motivated me to keep chasing my goals,” she says.

Joanita moved from Uganda to Adelaide two years ago to pursue her interest in fashion at TAFE SA. 

“The course is broad and very hands-on which is good and you have the opportunity to challenge yourself,” she says.

Her next challenge is this year’s graduate collection; eight designs that bring together a range of techniques such as tie dye and batik and different fabrics including hemp and silk organza.

“I’ve really learnt a lot from the course, things like recycling and using sustainable fabrics and I want to take this knowledge and use it back home in Uganda in my own business,” Joanita says.