VICTORIAN mourning dress, Vivienne Westwood clothes and vintage fun fairs are just some of the inspirations behind the end-of-year collections of fashion students at York College.

The students are frantically putting the final touches to their collections ahead of their annual catwalk show at York Racecourse on Wednesday, but took time out to show off some of their more eye-catching pieces for The Press.

First up was a pink space-age outfit, with more than a nod to the movie Barbarella. Nineteen-year-old designer Charley Markham, of Tadcaster, said she was trying to capture the spirit of the Eighties. "I went for glam, fetish and rave."

Classmate Harrison Roberts, 18, from Leeds, aimed to bring the Eighties up to date with his clashing patterns of tartan and leopard-print, while Issy Le Monnier, 18, of Osgodby, near Selby, mined retro Vivienne Westwood in a skirt and capelet combo. She got the idea after a college trip to the V&A in London to see some of Westwood's iconic fashion pieces.

Mother nature was the starting point for other students. Flooding inspired Emily Morris, 20, from Seaton Ross, in her collection, December Destruction. She said: "My auntie lives at Spurn Point near Hull which was flooded in December. I've done all the seams on the outside of the garments so they look weathered."

Emily Shillito, 22, from Knaresborough, took her cue from the novel, The Secret Garden. "It's about how everything on the outside is dull and boring, but exciting inside." Emily's dress is dark on the exterior with bright colours in the layer beneath.

The strict etiquette of Victorian mourning fascinates student Joanne Roberts, 21, from York, and is apparent in her designs, The Mourning Birds. For one dress, she crocheted an oversized snood, which fell like a bird's wing over model Monica Ip's arm. For Joanne, it's all about texture. "I wanted to do something dramatic, so looked at textures rather than colours. I bought most of my fabrics on the college trip to Paris."

The faded colours of an English fun fair run through final-year student Jacey Lamerton's garments. The collection is named after Dreamland, an abandoned amusement park in her hometown of Margate. "There's a lot of nostalgia in this," says Jacey, a mature student who is also a mother of two and works part-time in York boutique Maude and Tommy on Grape Lane.

After graduation, Jacey will continue to make clothes for sale in Maude and Tommy.

Also graduating this year is Rebecca Cooper, 21, from Leeds, whose final collection draws on shapes in origami and architecture. She will be looking for a job in fashion design.

Ella Simpson, 22, from York, drew a skeleton on her full-length shift dress as part of her Matters of the Heart collection, taking inspiration from the gothic themes at York Minster.

Ella wants to be a bridal wear designer and has already set up her own business, Roses and Bones, and is working on her first commission.

She said: "I'm working with one bride already, so it's all systems go."

* There will be two catwalk shows on Wednesday, May 21, at York Racecourse, in the afternoon and evening. Tickets are available from the York College’s Finance Office, telephone: 01904 770495, priced £6 (afternoon performance) and £10 (evening performance).