As welcome rain pounded the historical Deeargee woolshed, Uralla, the 2023 Fleece to Fashion Awards gala dinner and presentation saw spectacular designs hit the runway.
Cash prizes and an all-expenses-paid Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) industry immersion in Italy were awarded by celebrated judges Akira Isogawa, Jonathon Ward and fashion doyenne Melissa Hoyer.
The 2023 winners were announced, with the supreme champion award going to Chelsea Mitchell from the Whitehouse Institute of Design, Sydney. Ms Mitchell also received the Developing Designer with a collection reflecting her love of wool and the great outdoors.
The Akira Isogawa mentorship went to Jun (Michael) Sheung Il, Sydney, while the secondary schools' award went to Dechen K from Uralla Central School for a Dior-inspired evening gown.
The winner of the special occasion award was Judy Bond, Sydney, with an elegant and classic crochet cocktail dress. The winner of the inspired menswear entry was Jack Bartholomeusz, Sydney with contemporary tailoring in classic materials.
The global-cultures award winner was Alice Pettirosso, Sydney for her contemporary take on a traditional Slovakian Kurent coat.
The innovation in wool award went to Sasha Matteucci, Lismore, and her remarkable musical woven artwork. Ms Matteucci also took the wearable art award.
The global cultures award winner was Alice Pettirosso, Sydney, for her contemporary take on a traditional Slovakian Kurent coat, while Amy Macaskill took the wool re-imagined with a three-piece outfit made from wool mill scraps.
The Wedding Party award went to Laurel Judd, Sydney with an incredible knitted fantasy showstopper, while the most marketable award went to Aoibha Doyla, Sydney, with a colourful cut-out collection.
Three encouragement awards celebrating three young designers went to Chelsea Mitchell, Summer Wanless, and Phillipa Signorelli from the Whitehouse Institute of Design, Sydney, with vibrant and striking designs in colour-rich hues.
Fleece to Fashion Chairman and Armidale wool grower Lachlan Fulloon said the awards had been running for more than 40 years.
"Fleece to Fashion brings together the farming and fashion communities to celebrate wool," he said. "Connecting the next generation of designers with the New England wool-growing community fosters a deep appreciation for how farming and fashion can work together to showcase this remarkable fibre and keep it on the world's catwalks.
Wool lover Catriona Rowntree hosted the gala celebration in the working woolshed.