Jessica Van is making science sexy.
Hailing from Tuggeranong, the graduate fashion designer sent her collection down the runway on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney as part of The Innovators show.
But she very nearly went down a completely different path, initially studying engineering at ANU.
"My parents are quite strict. Growing up I had to do science, I had to do maths, and there wasn't really any wiggle room especially with the creative subjects," she said.
"All of my electives were science and maths based and that's what I was geared to think was my career path and my future."
It was her housemate at the time who eventually put the idea in Van's head that maybe engineering wasn't for her.
"They saw how miserable I was, and asked why I wasn't doing something that I actually liked. It seemed like such a simple question but I was never really asking that to myself," she said.
From there she took the massive leap from the relatively safe path of engineering to the world of fashion, starting with a night illustration class, and eventually deferring her degree to move to Sydney and study at the competitive Fashion Design Studio.
She graduated valedictorian in March this year, and was selected with six fellow students to showcase at The Innovators show – a handpicked selection of Fashion Design Studio graduates. It's a show that's notorious for launching the careers of fashion heavyweights, including Dion Lee and Nicky Zimmerman.
And Van hasn't completely turned away from her science background, incorporating it into her dramatic designs.
"[My collection] definitely has my science background showing through. I'm very inspired by environment and my observations of the world, especially the Australian flora and fauna," she said.
"Everything's quite natural. I've done all the hand painting and printing myself and explored textures and fluidity so all the lines are quite soft and organic and it's quite ultra feminine."
While she now calls Sydney home, Van comes back to Canberra fairly often to see family, and will also return early next year for her wedding, which will be held at Poacher's Pantry. But that's one frock she won't be designing herself.
"That's something that I definitely want someone else to do so I can get my Bridezilla out."