A MIDLAND student’s playful take on her cultural heritage hit the catwalks of Graduate Fashion Week.

Shavaun Sahota’s collection ‘An Indian Indian’ was inspired by Native American Indians from Canada, where she was born, and her East Indian grandparents, whom she lives with now.

“My collection is quite literal, it’s all about me and my personal life,” said Shavaun, 22 and from Oldbury.

“I think that’s one of the reasons I was one of only four chosen from my class to show at Graduate Fashion Week.”

Her unusual collection featured on the catwalk at Earls Court in London last week.

The imagery for her prints was drawn from Native American Indian masks and face shapes whilst the shape and colour of the garments were inspired by traditional East Indian clothing.

She explained: “I was born in a mountain city called Merritt in Canada. It is very remote and the scenery is amazing. When I was two, we moved to Vancouver which was a big bustling city.

“The scenery was still amazing though, you could go to the beach in the city and see the mountain as a backdrop. I lived there until I was seven so I have a lot of memories of it.

“I continue to return once or twice every year. My memories are of childhood fun. As a result my collection is based on being free and not thinking about all the stuff you have to think of when you’re older.”

Shavaun went to live with her grandmother in Oldbury when she was seven. “My move was down to family politics,” said Shavuan, who studied BA (Hons) Fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University.

“My parents divorced and I came to live with my grandmother. It was very different to Canada but I had cousins who lived there too so there was still lots of fun and playing.”

Clashing neon colours are a big feature of the collection.

“My garments take their colours from the festival of Holi in India. Everyone’s reaction has been ‘wow that’s really bright!’ Colour is a really big aspect for me. The thought of colour changing and lifting people’s moods is interesting, as is how many different colours mixed together creates a clash that is verging on disgusting but has a beauty about it.”

The collection features woven fabric.

Shavaun, who has dual Canadian and British nationality, said: “Weave is used in both cultures so I’ve used woven fabrics. The shape of my clothes comes from my Indian background. I’ve put in flowing vests and trousers based on my grandmother’s clothing.

“She wears vests with makeshift pockets so I’ve added secret pockets inside pockets inside my trousers.

“I don’t have time to make my own clothes but I’m hoping now GFW is over, I may start to do that. My grandma wants me to make clothes for her too!”

Shavaun hopes to be able to gain experience abroad with one of her favourite designers, such as Dries Van Noten, before launching her own range of clothes. She has already spent a four-week placement with Oasis, where she was tasked with sourcing fabric swatches that she thought would be suitable for their key lines.

She said: “I love the idea of people wearing something that is fully designed by me from the concept to the key details on a garment.”

* Graduate Fashion Week, which ran from June 10-13, celebrated the work of more than 1,000 of the finest BA degree fashion students from 40 universities across the UK and overseas.

It is the ultimate event for anyone with an interest in the business of fashion. Sponsored by George at Asda, there were live photoshoots, a blogging bar, a ‘talent hub’ for recruiters, a series of one to one ‘audience withs’ and exhibitions of students’ work.

Claire shows how to get on ladder

Claire Robinson graduated from Birmingham City University with a first class honour’s degree in fashion retail management.

Her love of vintage clothing led her to set up her own business at a vintage auction house.

But she has been at Graduate Fashion Week having since landed her dream job.

Claire, 26 and from Moseley, said: “I have always had an open-minded ethic and believe you only know what you want to do when you’re doing it.

“Therefore there is no harm in exploring and even changing your mind a few times until you get it right.”

As the end of Claire’s third year loomed, she felt wasn’t quite ready to launch into the fashion industry so she organised a vintage fashion auction in Birmingham.

“I gained funding through the Prince’s Trust enterprise course and it was very exciting sourcing unique pieces from all over the country, and having bidders from across the globe!

“To work for yourself you need to enjoy your own company and I did begin to crave being part of a team and finally felt ready for the real world.”

Claire has now landed her ‘ideal career’ as an online stylist for French Connection.

She said: “I love being surrounded by clothes. Fashion is a sensory thing for me – texture and colour is as important as being hands on to me.

“My job involves styling all of the images which go on the website, including e-commerce, look books, press and animations.

“I get to meet lots of lovely people and my work is there for the whole world to see.

“Most importantly I’ve made my mum very proud!”