Cobbling together a dream

Otago Polytechnic fashion student Alina Cioaga (24) shows off one of her creations in Dunedin...
Otago Polytechnic fashion student Alina Cioaga (24) shows off one of her creations in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Alina Cioaga's shoes, you might say, are taking her places - in fact, all the way to Milan.

The Otago Polytechnic fashion student will head to Italy next month for a five-month exchange at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) to study shoe and accessory design.

"This opportunity means the world to me," she said.

After taking a three-week elective course in shoe design last year, she became increasingly interested in the area.

The course allowed her to create a fluoro-yellow pair of wedge-heel ankle-boots which featured in Sunday magazine's Shoe of the Week section.

It was a surprise and honour for her to receive such an accolade for the first and only pair of shoes she had crafted.

With plans to turn some of her designs into smart pairs of real leather footwear while in Europe, and one day open a shop in Dunedin, the first pair of shoes are just a beginning.

For her, shoes have to make a statement, and she loves working with colour.

"I love cool things: girly, funky, as long as they fit and they are comfortable.

"It does not matter if you are skinny or if you put on weight, shoes will always fit."

She will be the first Otago Polytechnic student to study the topics at the institute, where lessons are given in Italian.

She believed her ability to speak the language helped the success of her application, she said.

However, Miss Cioaga knew her biggest challenge would be funding the trip.

Living and travel costs will set her back upwards of $12,000, so she has been seeking sponsorship, scholarships and grants.

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