Lanterns and plastic bags are not the first items that spring to mind when thinking about fashion, but they inspired students who won awards at Polytechnic University's annual graduation fashion show yesterday. Tang Mei-yan won the overall grand award and the show's most-promising young talent award, with her collection of six white outfits featuring frames simulating a lantern's structure. One of the outfits, similar to a French baroque dress, was decorated with scores of lantern lookalikes. 'I saw the image of a sky lantern,' she said. 'It was so beautiful and I wanted to put the idea into my collection.' A sky lantern is a traditional lantern that rises into the air once it is lit. 'I want to bring out the Chinese tradition,' Ms Tang said. 'A sky lantern carries the wishes of everyone.' Contour lines on maps inspired first-runner-up Carla Wong Wai-ling, whose clothing was decorated with layers of lines. Tang Kim-kui, winner of the best-innovation award, used transparent plastic bags and liquid crystals to make dresses. 'Hong Kong suppresses creativity ... our thinking path follows that of others,' he said. There were 23 students in yesterday's finals. Mr Tang said you needed to be daring to stand out. Design Institute senior lecturer in fashion and textiles Shaun Cheung Shun-ping said students should be devoted and be prepared to visit the mainland. Fashion Designers Association vice-chairman Walter Ma said the downturn had not affected recruitment, but what was needed was fashionable personal styling, good colour sense and an openness to learn.