GRAND DESIGNS: Rae Dunkley with some of the senior Gympie High home economics students she will mentor this term (back from left) Taj Lingard, Caylah Knowles, (front) Tayla Bright and Julie Carter.
GRAND DESIGNS: Rae Dunkley with some of the senior Gympie High home economics students she will mentor this term (back from left) Taj Lingard, Caylah Knowles, (front) Tayla Bright and Julie Carter.

A cut above at Gympie State High School

GYMPIE fashion designer Rae Dunkley has returned to her former high school to share her passion for fashion with senior home economics students.

Teacher Gay Collins said she was both excited and grateful to be able to harness the design skills and enthusiasm of former student Rae Dunkley who has spent the greater part of 25 years devoted to her time in the rag trade.

Ms Collins asked Rae to come to her classes after she employed her to do some alterations to a formal dress.

"We have such talent here in our community that should be harnessed and shared,” she said.

Ms Collins believes that during this term her students will not only benefit from Rae's passion and vibrancy but will also learn the value of Rae's mantra (below).

Cut is the first step to mastering the Craft and creating Art...

Cut is about understanding grain lines of fabric and pattern.

Cut is about laying up your pattern to achieve the best outcome from your fabric.

Cut is about the cut of a garment, how it hangs and falls from the body.

Cloth is my obsession...

Cloth is the aesthetic building block what will motivate you

Cloth is your inspiration for design

Cloth is the simplest way to make a statement

Cloth can scare you, if you don't understand it.

Colour is fun...

Colour allows you creative expression

Colour makes you feel good when you wear it.

Colour is about adventure and pushing boundaries.

Rae shared with the senior students her passion and love for design and garment production which began at Gympie State High School.

She said how lucky students at GSHS were today, to be able to study a diverse and wide-reaching array of subjects that weren't available when she attended GSHS.

During her long, intensive and extensive career, Rae has turned her expert hand to many tasks from head patternmaker to operations manager, and from couture to corporate uniforming and branding.

In 1993 she swept the winner's circle with her creations and designs, becoming Gympie Dressmaker of the Year.

Rae encouraged the home economics students with her own edict that there was nothing she wouldn't give a go.

She challenged her eager student cohort to push themselves out of their comfort zones and grasp any challenges that came their way.

Students were both impressed and horrified when they were told that working on a hand-stitched gown can take up to 100 hours plus, but that the time, effort and blurred vision is all paid in full when the client beams with joy as she unveils the garment created just for them.

It can take anywhere up to four hours to complete a hemline that totals anywhere up to six metres.

Rae Dunkley's hand-sew gown which was featured on the cover of England's Bridal magazine.

Students were keen to see the beautiful, one-of-a kind garments created in Rae's Gympie studio.

One of her hand-sewn bridal gowns graced the cover of England's Bridal magazine when her client was married overseas.

Rae said to this day, with all her experience, her hands still start sweating when she puts scissors to fabric, knowing it may have cost more than $500 a metre.

The assessment for Senior Home Economics this term asks students to plan and create a trendy garment or outfit to wear when going out on weekends.

Firstly students had to discuss what designs would suit different body shapes and how they could make a garment to enhance and flatter any shape.

They studied anthropometrics (the study of measurement relevant to the human body) with Rae to help decide how to choose an appropriate style.

Elements and principles of design will also be explored when selecting the best fabric for each student to look and feel their best.

Students will travel to Lincraft next week to select patterns and fabric to start this project.

"It is so exciting to see students acquire skills that can be used now and taken with them into the future,” Ms Collins said.

"Maybe one day we will see another GSHS student on the catwalk.

"Just in the few lessons that Rae has been in the class, students have been eager to learn and understand a glimpse of the industry.”