FOR 24-year-old Chinese fashion designer Song Yumei, the 6,000 renminbi (about HK$5,400) prize she won at last week's Dalian fashion festival will bring new opportunities to learn from others and to draw on her travel experience. Song pipped 39 other finalists, all mainland Chinese fashion designers, for the Golden Scissors Award at the Sixth Dalian International Fashion Festival, where Hong Kong designers and the Trade Development Council were on hand to show their wares and to give advice. Song, who has been interested in art since her days at school, said she plans to use part of her prize to buy a camera to record the latest styles wherever she goes. ''I want to learn continuously,'' she said. ''I hope to see the fashion trends from Harbin to Guangzhou. Ultimately, I'd like to go to Paris to learn the theories of designing so I can raise the fashion standard of my own country.'' Song said she had sewn dresses since she was 11 years old. ''After I graduated from high school, I went to the Dalian University of Fashion Design,'' she said. The TDC - which has recently opened an office in Dalian, in China's northeast - led a delegation of 62 Hong Kong fashion companies taking part in the festival, at which they occupied 84 booths. Other designers included representatives from Russia and Spain. The TDC also staged fashion shows at the Furama Hotel in Dalian, at which it featured 15 leading designers and manufacturers of local labels, including Lawrence Tang, Simon Choi, Eddie Pang and Allan Chiu. For the four shows, that took place over two days, there were 12 models from Dalian and six from Beijing to show off the designers' wares. ''The shows were divided into three parts,'' said TDC senior manager Mimi Yeung. The first part consisted of casual wear with the ''flavour of Repulse Bay'', while city wear was the subject of the second. To end the show with a romantic look, the third part was related to Dalian's history. The city was liberated by the Russians, after being under Japanese occupation during World War II. There used to be a Stalin Square, which has now changed its name to the People's Square, but the statue of Stalin still stands in the park. The Hong Kong fashion show was considered very satisfactory by TDC's assistant director Mary Wong. ''Hong Kong is the best bridge for Dalian to open up to other countries,'' she said. Veteran designer William Tang said Hong Kong was also helping to train mainland models. ''Some have gone down to Hong Kong to be trained by the TDC,'' he said. ''We give them a total concept of make-up and hairstyle. ''Their figures and looks have reached international standard, but it still takes time to develop their presentation style.'' The annual fashion festival is a big event for Dalian. The week-long festival includes an opening night of songs and dances held in the city's stadium and a colourful street parade, watched by local people. Dalian, a coastal city in Liaoning province, covers an area of 12,500 square kilometres and has a population of 5.2 million. Trade destined to, or from, more than 140 countries passes through the port. It has a simple aim, says its mayor Bo Xilai, to become the Hong Kong of northern China in 20 years, and fashion is just a start.