London-based jewellery designer, Nicole Akong, is trying her hand at another skill this year as she competes in the sixth series of the Great British Sewing Bee.
Akong, an acclaimed designer who started her career as a kickstarter at the 2010 edition of International Jewellery London, is one of 12 amateur sewers taking part in the reality TV show.
Returning last night for Series 6, The Great British Sewing Bee, which airs on BBC One, welcomed 12 new contestants before setting them their first task – to create a wrap skirt.
The group were then put through their paces when they were asked to transform a men’s skirt into another item of clothing before attempting to make their first made-to-measure garment, a tea dress.
Despite a struggle in the first round, Nicole Akong survived the debut show by becoming second in the second round and close to the top in the last round. She will therefore return next week to insert an invisible zip and pockets on a pair of palazzo pants, while the judges keep a keen eye on how well they pattern-match the bold prints.
While Akong chose a career in jewellery design, she is no stranger to dressmaking.
During her childhood in Trinidad the choice of imported clothes was limited, so Akong grew up around dressmaking, often visiting a seamstress to have garments made.
Her mother taught her to sew as a teenager so she could create her own outfits.
Today Akong says her sewing style is comfortable and relaxed, suited to a mum working from home, but she sees that as no excuse not to “turn out” so makes clothes in slinky metallics, bold Asian prints and fabric sourced from fashion fairs in Paris.
Akong probably has the most creative job out of the contestants, with others coming from a background of teaching, medicine and banking.
In the jewellery industry the TV contestant runs Akong jewellery house.
Launching the brand in 2010, her iconic collections have won Akong several rising star accolades, including from Vogue, the Evening Standard and International Jewellery London.
Akong has had her pieces stocked at Asos Harvey Nicols and Anthropologie, and today the self-taught designer has made it her mission to democratise the world of designer jewellery, and make her exclusive designs available to, not only those who have the money to buy, but also to those who prefer to DIY.
To support her mission, Akong has released a series of online courses, workshops and tutorials, so that consumers can follow her exact step-by-step construction process and re-create her signature pieces themselves.
IMAGE CREDIT: BBC ONE