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Star attraction: fashion designer Chineza Augustus wearing the dress that attracted model Aminat Ayinde’s attention (Photographs by Blaire Simmons)

Chineza Augustus loved watching her mother sew. She would try to follow along, repurposing old pairs of jeans as her mom made clothes for the family.

Fashion design had piqued Rosina Santucci’s interest but she had become a hairdresser instead.

“Now I’m living her dream,” Ms Augustus said. “This is the next generation.”

The 23-year-old is trying to get her own fashion line, Sévuhn, off the ground.

She received a confidence boost in July when she sold a dress to Aminat Ayinde, the 2009 runner-up in the reality show America’s Next Top Model.

The Nigerian-born model was visiting the island for the Bermuda International Collections show; Ms Augustus was one of the designers taking part.

“I was stunned when she tried on one of my dresses,” she said. “I couldn’t think of what to say.”

Ms Ayinde loved the dress, but wasn’t a fan of it in nude.

The aspiring designer made a copy in red and will hand-deliver it to her when she visits New York this weekend.

“My dream would be for her to wear my dress in a fashion shoot,” Ms Augustus said.

“That would mean international exposure.”

She named her line Sévuhn because the number seven is odd and she loves doing things differently.

“It also means complete and I want people to feel complete and comfortable in my designs,” she said.

The first dress she made was during a sewing class at CedarBridge Academy. She said: “It was a denim tube dress. We would put on a little fashion show afterward.

“Mine was different because all the colour was in the back of the dress. In most designs all the colour goes on the front.”

Her family insisted she had a gift, so she continued with her designs, but decided to focus on photography after high school.

“I went to London,” she said. “I came home in less than a year. I was homesick.”

But the city had a profound affect on her style.

“It was definitely different being in London,” she said. “It changed my whole fashion sense.

“They dress very ‘out there’ in London. They don’t watch what people have to say and they just mismatch everything. They wear a lot of bright colours, but I like dark colours myself.”

Her family were a little shocked when she returned to Bermuda with a Mohawk hairdo.

Now she works at Connections Boutique on Court Street and designs in her spare time.

“I find the finishing the most rewarding part of fashion design,” she said. “When everything is finished, it is great.Sometimes you mess up and you have to pick it all out and do it again. It takes a lot of patience.”

Ms Augustus hopes to return to school to study fashion design next year. “I have so much more to learn,” she said. “I want to get better at fashion illustration.

“I also want to get better at the sewing part.”

She said she particularly needed help with sizing. Most of her clothing is designed for her own physique, 5ft 7ins and thin.

“I need to present a wider range of sizes,” she said. “I want to get my career going and hopefully travel the world.”

Part of her collection can be seen in the Fashion Forward show on now at the Bermuda Society of Arts Gallery at City Hall until September 13.

Visit www.bsoa.bm

Fashion designer Chineza Augustus with her collection at the BSoA (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Fashion designer Chineza Augustus showing off the dress that attracted model Aminat Ayinde's attention (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Local fashion designer Chineza Augustus (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Fashion designer Chineza Augustus (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Fashion designer Chineza Augustus with her fashion at the BSoA (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
In the family: budding talent Chineza Augustus says she is living her mom’s dream by pursuing a career in fashion. She is hoping to return to school next year to study design