I saw a dress in an exhibition and copied it. Empire waist mini dress with a ribbon attached at the waist coming below the hemline and attaching to the lining similar to a carwash brush. I used matte satin for the dress and ribbon for the fringe as fabric tubing in half scale would have been too bulky.
To push myself creatively
I did not use the pattern as the basis for the garment, rather I draped the entire garment. I also had to make many construction and design decisions based on the original garment to half scale it.
Follow your instincts.
It would have been nice to know the judging rules prior to entering the contest.