One fashion designer has picked up an award for an unconventional dress – forget silk and cotton, this is made from heavy-duty industrial material. Steve Cohen reports.

When fashion student Ana Ogun-Sanya decided to create a unique dress, she used the most unconventional materials imaginable.

Ana merged a mix of non-slip bathroom matting, rug underlay and the type of shelf liner used inside vans to make a range of bizarre outfits.

The result was a triumph for both Ana and Isagi, the Amersham company that supplied the products The set of garments last year won masters student Ana, 24, the prestigious Swarovski prize for innovative use of crystal last year during the Royal College of Art’s Fashion Postgraduate Show in London.

It also brought to prominence the bath and shower mats that Isagi has been developing over the last two years which are tested to a rigorous safety standard.

London-based Ana told how she stumbled on Isagi’s products in a carpet store in Shepherd’s Bush. An internet search led her to the company in Buckinghamshire, and she was invited to visit the stockroom by directors Jayne and Andrew Guilbert, who enthusiastically supported her.

Ana’s brief had simply been to make a collection of eight garments for her masters, and the end result was so good that even her lecturers didn’t twig at first how she had made the dresses.

“I don’t think anyone realised they were made from bath mats,” she told Elite. “When I told one of the teachers, they were so shocked.”

Ana praised Isagi for giving her so much information during several visits to Amersham.

Jayne said: “We always knew our products were special, but it was a real thrill to see them fit together into a catwalk dress. It’s quite funny to see a glamorous model strutting her stuff in shelf liner that you would normally see in the back of a van driven by an engineer or mechanic.

“The dresses are lovely, although they look like they have come from a dinner party on Star Trek because they are so futuristic.”

Ana’s work featured heavily for Isagi in February at Birmingham’s NEC Spring Fair The company displayed one of the dresses on a mannequin and offered a magnum of champagne to one lucky winner who correctly identified which materials were used in its manufacture.

Isagi, aka ‘It Seemed A Good Idea’, holds exclusive rights in the UK and northern Europe for a range of specialist non-slip products used, for example, in kitchens, bathrooms, caravans and boats, as well as commercially. The firm also provides safety matting to help people with disabilities.

The company has been in existence for seven years and has seen a ‘steady and pleasing’ growth in business, but Ana’s dress pushed new boundaries.

However, there is a very serious point to Isagi’s display.

“Retailers and general customers don’t realise that this type of non-slip material is on the market, and don’t realise just how much is involved in testing to British Safety standard BS8445:2012 for our new antimicrobial bath and shower mats,” said Jayne. “And yet this material has incredible safety benefits in a whole range of applications, as well as being hugely versatile and durable.” For more: