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Italian design has come out on top in this year's iD International Emerging Designer Awards.
Teheran-born Mahshid Mahdian (36), of Milan, won the supreme prize at last night's sellout show in the Dunedin Town Hall.
Her collection ''Shadow'' was inspired by her trip to Burano Island in Venice, and her fascination at the harmony between its colourful buildings and their reflections on the water.
Her five outfits comprised layered fabric and geometric shapes, referencing the Burano buildings' diverse dimensions.
Ms Mahdian also used printing techniques to simulate shadows and reflections.
As the awards winner, she will show her collection in the iD Fashion Show at the Dunedin Railway Station tonight and tomorrow.
Ms Mahdian thanked the judges in Italian, and managed ''thank you so much'' in English.
''Grazie mille!'' she said.
Ms Mahdian studied fashion design at the Brera Academy in Milan and last November showed her collection in the city's Mittelmoda award show.
Mittelmoda colleges and designers co-ordinator Stefano Sopelza, who was a judge of the 2011 iD awards, encouraged her to enter this year's 10th anniversary event.
Judges Margi Robertson, Tanya Carlson, Martin Grant, Lucy Jones and Francis Hooper said the overall standard of entries was amazing.
Mr Hooper said winners stood out because their unique characters and personalities as designers came through in their garments.
''Mahshid captured a moment in a heartbeat. When you looked at her collection you knew she had it just right - it delivered on that inexplicable X-factor,'' the judges said.
The runway show of 26 collections by finalists from around the world was attended by 1350 people and was thought to be the largest fashion event held at the Town Hall.
It included the work of three Otago Polytechnic school of design fashion graduates - Justine Tindley (41), Hannah Heslop (20), and Georgia Ferguson (21).
Other finalists travelled to Dunedin from China, Singapore, and India.
Ms Carlson said this year's collections were among the best she had seen in 10 years of the awards.
''They are bold, playful and show a fresh, new approach to traditional crafts alongside the latest technology and textiles. We had a fantastic time on judging day and were in total agreement of our winners,'' she said.
Last night was the first time the awards had been held at the Town Hall.
Dunedin Centre manager Ruth Mackenzie-White said about 50 people worked behind the scenes to prepare the facility and host the event, in addition to the dozens of iD organisers, designers, hair and make-up artists and models.
A catwalk and tiered seating replaced the usual stalls seating, and trusses overhead were restructured with 50,000 watts of lighting.
''This build went through a rigorous design process starting in October last year, and took three days to construct,'' Ms Mackenzie-White said.
• iD Dunedin Fashion Inc 1st place ($10,000), Mahshid Mahdian (36), of Milan, ''Shadow''.
• Caffe L'Affare 2nd place ($4000), Alanna Barca (22), of Melbourne, ''Ornamental Forms''.
• Dunedin International Airport 3rd place ($2000), Chin Hau Tay (22), of Melbourne, ''Bewear Bear!''.
• The Fabric Store prize for excellence in design (worth $3000 including $2000 worth of fabric), Anna-Marie Gruber (22), of Sydney, ''Disconnect''.
• New Zealand Light Leathers prize (worth $2000 including $1000 worth of leather), Lucilla Gray (22), of Wellington, ''Hyper-Floralis''.
• Golden Centre Mall prize for most commercial collection ($1000), Mook Attakanwong (22), of Sydney, ''Libertine''.
• Martin Grant internship in Paris, Vaibhav Singh (27), of Kolkata, ''Ornaments of a Warrior''.