GALLERY: Designer a finalist in Miss Universe costume competition 

Helani Sarath-Kumara has never studied fashion design, but one of her self-designed and made frocks is a finalist in The Miss Universe Australia 2013 Australian Costume Competition.

Ms Sarath-Kumara, 26, is one of four designers vying for the chance to have their design worn by the Miss Universe Australia representative, Olivia Wells, at the Miss Universe world finals in Russia in November.

More than 100 designers submitted sketches in July to the brief of creating an outfit that symbolised Australia.

Ms Sarath-Kumara's design was inspired by the words "I love a sunburnt country", from the famous Australian poem My Country by Dorothea Mackellar.

"I thought about what Australia could mean globally," Ms Sarath-Kumara said.

"I guess the main thing that has stood in Australia throughout time is this image of Uluru.

"It's meant to have Uluru in the centre and the gum trees above."

Ms Sarath-Kumara studied graphic design at the University of Technology but opted to pursue a career in fashion design.

"Graphic design is doing work for somebody else," Ms Sarath-Kumara said.

"Whereas in fashion design, you are working with the client to find out what suits their body, their taste and it's a mixture of your style and how it's to be suited to them."

She started her fashion label, Gather and Stitch, after a charity fashion show.

"I saw an unfinished building in a rural village in Sri Lanka and I asked them why they had stopped construction.

"They said they did not have enough money to finish the building, so I thought that I could maybe get a group of friends to finish it off.

"I thought I would do a fashion show and it was something that our community [Sri Lankan] has not done before.

"We raised $5000, which was enough to finish the building."

To vote for Ms Sarath-Kumara dress click here

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