A FORMER Heathfield School pupil is preparing to sing live in front of millions of TV viewers after making it through to the final stages of the X Factor.

Katie Waissel, 24, was picked by the girls' mentor and judge Cheryl Cole on Sunday night's show after a tearful performance of Charlie Chaplin's 'Smile'.

Her family run the trendy DNK boutique in High Street, Pinner, and her father told the Observer that the inspiration for her outlandish outfits and unique style came from years of working behind the till and rifling through the clothes racks.

Mum Diana, father Maurice and sister Natalie are now frantically making and distributing posters at the shop to give Katie as much support as possible.

Mr Waissel said: "She helps out in our shop, it is even named after her. Diana, Natalie and Katie: DNK.

"We have been here for nearly nine years and a lot of her inspiration for her clothing comes from the shop and also the Hair On Broadway [HOB] salons in Ruislip and Northwood where she had a part time job."

Katie attended Heathfield, an independent girls' school, between the ages of four and 16. She also attended a photography college in Amersham and the London College of Fashion.

In Sunday's show, the Harefield singer confidently stated that she wanted to 'be a legacy' before her performance in front of Cheryl and guest judge Will.i.am, of Black Eyed Peas.

Despite breaking down during the song, saying 'it means a lot to me', Katie pulled through and later promised Cheryl that she would 'not let her down'.

Before sending her through to this weekend's live show, Cheryl said: "You are extremely adorable and you have got a great voice."

But many in the national press have criticised the Girls Aloud singer for her decision to send through both Katie and 16-year-old Cher Lloyd, who also had an emotional performance as she struggled through a throat infection.

The pair are in the final 12 at the expense of Gamu Nhengu, 18, who many tipped as a favourite to win.

Mr Wiassel endured a media scrum outside the family's Harefield home on Monday morning, but said: "I am delighted my daughter has got so far, I am a proud parent. A lot of things have been said but all I can say is please get behind her.

"She is a local girl and I have got the utmost confidence in her, we believe in her, our family believe in her."

Mother Diana added: "I am really proud."

Anyone who wants to support Katie by putting up a poster can get one from DNK Fashion, in Pinner High Street.

The three girls chosen by Cheryl, also including Rebecca Ferguson, 24, will perform live on ITV1 this Saturday (9) at 7.40pm, along with the nine other contestants chosen by rival judges Danii Minogue, Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell.