Design student chases dream

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:55 24/07/2013
Michelle Panzer
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
FLYING HIGH: Undeterred by a neuromuscular condition, Stacey Christie has worked 16-hour days to complete her fashion assignments.

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Former Waimea College student Stacey Christie hasn't let a neuromuscular condition get in the way of pursuing her fashion dreams in Los Angeles.

The 20-year-old fashion design student at the College of Creative Arts through Massey University in Wellington will be leaving on a six-month exchange to California State University in August.

"I had to apply for it a year ago, so I was nervous then, but now I'm just excited because I've got everything ready to go," she said.

Miss Christie has a degenerative condition, limb girdle muscular dystrophy. It affects muscles around her hips and shoulders. It can affect balance and causes difficulty walking, going up and down stairs and lifting objects.

She said the condition meant she sometimes had difficulty picking up and carrying her trademark long dresses and their patterns, but she still managed to complete her first collection last month, after just 12 weeks' work.

She has been known to put in 16-hour days on campus when a crucial item needs finishing.

"Some mornings I'd leave for uni around 7am and then I'd leave for dinner at 6pm, then have, like, an hour and come back and work until midnight."

Miss Christie's first collection of designs is titled Age: Unknown. She came up with the design concepts, and made the patterns and garments herself.

She said the draped dresses patterned with rainbow dye and spiderwebs were part of an interest she had in how clothing was shaped around the wearers' identity.

She is also keen to study clothing for special interest groups, such as disabled people and children, during her time in the United States.

Miss Christie spent time helping with the Trelise Cooper and Stolen Girlfriends Club shows at New Zealand Fashion Week last year.

She said she was excited about moving to LA and the opportunity to get to know American designers, and hoped to visit flagship stores in New York.

She expects to extend her exchange to last a year, but will return to New Zealand to spend six months working on her final collection.

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