String of ideas for AYO uniform

TWENTY-FOUR aspiring fashion designers from the Hong Kong Polytechnic's Swire School of Design had a chance to stretch their imagination and display their creativity at a recent design competition.

The challenge was to come up with a uniform for the Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) - one that would symbolise youthful vitality.

Jan Stevens, the course leader in fashion design for the polytechnic, involved her first-year fashion students in the competition, proposed by AYO founder and executive director Richard Pontzious.

''I thought it was such a stimulating thing to do and being youths themselves, they were in a better position to relate to it,'' Ms Stevens said.

Two winners will be selected and each will get a return ticket to Europe, sponsored by Cathay Pacific.

Five finalists were shortlisted from the 24 participants, many of whom took their artistic licence to the limit, with designs inspiring enough to grace the catwalks of international fashion shows.

Mr Pontzious, who commissioned the competition in view of AYO's tour of Asia, said: ''It's great to see all this imagination at work.'' His opinion was echoed by local designer Belinda Wong and DKA (Asia), publicists for the orchestra.

Entries were judged according to the originality of the fabrics and colours used and the appropriateness of the designs. Contestants were also reminded of the sweltering June weather conditions.

April Wong chose to work with the theme of energy and vitality which youths symbolise. She came up with a short blazer and pants, emblazoned in rich violet.

Emma Mak was inspired to decorate free-flowing satin robes with motifs of musical notes. ''The robes are suitable for bodies of all shapes.'' DKA's Dick Kaufman, publicist for the orchestra, said: ''It's impossible to choose as each design has its own appeal.'' Timothy Cheung drew inspiration from the four primary colours, choosing to garb the different sections of the orchestra - string, bass, woodwind and percussion - in different colours.

Ethnic characteristics were also apparent in many designs, with Carly Cheung Tze creating colourful logos on the necklines and sleeves of her collection. ''I tried to represent the many ethnic minorities in Asia by including details like Chinese lotus buttons.''