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A COMPETITION to design costumes for a Royal Opera House production of Madama Butterfly is full of Eastern Promise for Fashion students at Havering College.

Eight students in the second year of a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Fashion course at the college in Hornchurch, Greater London, have created Japanese-inspired clothing for the characters in the forthcoming Royal Opera House (ROH) production of Puccini's poignant opera.

The ROH Design Challenge 2014/15: Madama Butterfly gives students from Creative and Cultural Skills Academy Colleges the opportunity to test and develop their marketing, production and design skills.

Entrants have to demonstrate concrete knowledge of opera as an art form and produce a costume design informed by the Director's vision.

Mannequins in the Fashion studio at Havering College's Ardleigh Green campus are currently decked out in a colourful array of spectacular Japanese-inspired costumes produced by both male and female up-and-coming designers.

The Havering students will be attending the Schools' Matinee of Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden on Friday, March 27th when the garments of shortlisted finalists will go on display and the winners will be chosen and announced.

The prize is the chance to attend a tailor-made behind the scenes experience at the Royal Opera House. The winners will visit the backstage areas of the theatre and meet top professionals in their field.
Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly) tells the story of the young Japanese bride of a dashing American officer who finds her romantic idyll shattered when he deserts her shortly after their marriage. She lives in hope that one day he will return.

Madame Butterfly Fashion Comp 01 br 637

Havering College head of Fashion Marie Loney said: "There were different competition options but we chose the brief that had a modern day take on the story. The students were quite involved in looking at Madame Butterfly in terms of an opera production. They have taken that influence and the Japanese influence forward in their designs. They had a workshop day at the Royal Opera House where they talked to designers. This has been an amazing experience for all of them and they have gained a real insight into the theatrical costume design industry."

Student Mahfuj Sheikh, 19, from Romford, already has his own fashion business, Nakshee.Com, an online Indian design boutique in Chadwell Heath. He plans to go straight into work and focus on menswear design once he has finished his BTEC course.

Mahfuj said: "Tanking part in the competition has given me an insight into the professional world of fashion with deadlines and the necessity of working within the criteria set by the brief without limiting creativity to produce something unique."

Classmate Elizabeth Martins, 17, from Grays, said: "It was really interesting to go to the ROH and see behind the scenes. I am really pleased with my how my design has turned out. I was able to grasp the concept of Japanese themes and decided to go for a sophisticated look. I am applying to uni and want to focus on African Fashion."

Casey Kelly, 18, from Romford, took inspiration from butterflies which feature as appliques on his costume.

The former pupil of The Warren School in Chadwell Heath, who is also aiming for university, said: "I enjoy my course and have earned a lot of techniques. I had never been to anything like the ROH before and I have a lot about opera."

Fellow student Sophie Enstrom, 17, from Emerson Park, has university interviews for Fashion courses lined up.

Sophie, who previously attended Abbs Cross Academy & Arts College, said: "The challenge was to put a contemporary twist on a kimono and so my garment is quite flowing and drapes. I am pleased with the way my garment has turned out."

The ROH production directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser runs from March 20th to April 11th. For details see

For further information on Fashion courses email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01708 462801.

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