"Dolls... helped me learn to love, nurture, and accept without judgment because they were all so different," says Zahara Dos Santos.
Her words suggest she is wise beyond her nine years and her incredible new creation suggests the same about her talent.
The Mandurah resident is among the youngest to ever enter Western Australia's leading wearable arts competition.
Zahara's quirky, colourful creation 'Love of Dolls' is a finalist in the Youth category of the Wearable Art Mandurah competition.
Zahara and her family spent months scouring op-shops and second-hand stores to find pre-loved dolls and barbies to create her garment - and the final product is a colourful construction that expresses her love of dolls and fashion.
She has given each doll on the garment a name, as well as new hairstyles and clothes.
"I love dolls, they're so fun to play with and they're different and diverse. My room was also a huge inspiration for my design - it's like a doll museum with more than 125 dolls in there. They allowed me to imagine, role play, create, and open my mind to the wild and wonderful world of fashion and style."
The young designer said she was excited to show her creation,
"I'm really excited that I made the finals," Zahara said. "Creating my garment was a fun process, I enjoyed it.
"Sometimes it got hard, but overall it was very fun."
Zahara said she's always had a love of art and has been drawing from a very young age. She's now trying her hand at jewellery making using resin, clay and charms.
The aspiring fashion designer, who wants to attend fashion school in London, also had some advice for young people thinking about getting involved in Wearable Art Mandurah.
"Any young kids thinking about it - just give it a go, it's really fun."
There have been a record number of youth entries in the competition this year and 28 of the handcrafted garments made it through to the judging day in August.
From there, 15 garments in the category made it through as finalists and will appear in the Wearable Art Mandurah Showcase events at David Grays Arena on November 6 and 7.
Wearable Art Mandurah will also be hosting a free workshop for youth on Sunday, November 7, prior to the Showcase matinee performance. Starting Small: Mini Wearable Art Youth Workshop will teach young designers how to create a miniature prototype on which they can experiment with form, shape and materials, showing them that all they need to start making wearable art is an idea.
The Wearable Art Mandurah Showcase events are being held as part of the 2021 Mandurah Arts Festival (October 29 - November 7).
The Showcase dates are:
- Saturday, November 6 at 7.30pm - Awards Night
- Sunday, November 7 at 1.30pm - Relaxed Performance
- Sunday, November 7 at 7.30pm - Closing Performance
Category award winners will be announced during Saturday's performance including Paper, Black and White, Migration, Avant Garde, Tertiary and Youth, as well as special prizes such as Artist of the Year and Creative Reuse. Tickets are now available for the unique Showcase events. To purchase tickets and for more information about the competition go to www.wearableartmandurah.com