Student designers sparkle and shine at opera event

3 VOBO finalists wearing their jewellery and outfits designed by students of the Birmingham Institute of Jewellery, Fashion & Textiles.

Students from Birmingham City University (BCU)’s Institute of Jewellery, Fashion and Textiles showcased their costume and jewellery design skills at a special Voice of Black Opera (VOBO) event last week, creating bespoke ensembles worn by the project’s finalists. 

Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Birmingham City University

The VOBO project aims to promote the Commonwealth’s finest Black and South Asian singers as they launch international operatic careers, with the finals taking place last week at a Gala ceremony at Birmingham Town Hall.

Competing were five finalists, each wearing bespoke concert outfits and coordinating jewellery pieces researched and designed by BCU Jewellery, Fashion and Textiles students, in collaboration with the Black British Classical Foundation (BBCF).

Each outfit and jewellery piece incorporated designs tailored to the performers themselves, using elements of each finalist’s heritage and backgrounds, along with symbols of opera and operatic history to create stunning final designs.

Hayley Gorton-Snowball, and Beaulagh Brooks, helped coordinate this collaboration with BBCF, supporting students throughout the seven-week project.

Designing the finalist’s jewellery pieces were BA Jewellery & Objects students Carolina Guimaraes-Portugal-Andrade, Yixin Weng, Ayshin Jalilzadeh, Xiangyi Wang and Hanwen Ke.

The coordinating outfits were designed by final year Fashion students Gabrielle Chester, Lina Makaya, Isabella Bradley, Elaine Hewitt, Chloe Allway, Courtney Howes, Patricia Osei-Assibey, Mihai Bandrabur, Eleanor Brisley, Hannah Shircore, Saffron Lam and Neve Buckingham.

Head of the Birmingham Institute of Jewellery Fashion and Textiles, Lee Lapthorne, along with BCU students and staff involved in the project attended the event as guests, working backstage to dress the contestants before sitting down to enjoy the show and see their hard work take centre stage.

Finalist Racheal Duckett was the main winner on the night taking home the Sir Willard White Trophy, a £10,000 prize and a package of engagements to help launch her onto the world stage.

BCU’s involvement with the VOBOs comes off a successful summer hosting BBC hit TV show ‘All that Glitters’ at the university’s renowned School of Jewellery, presented by comedian Katherine Ryan.

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