Every stitch tells a story
6 MIN READ
Bank of Ireland’s Junk Kouture is an annual competition that challenges young students to take waste materials (the ‘Junk’) and use them to create high fashion outfits (the ‘Kouture’). The results are spectacular. Eye-catching outfits that wouldn’t look out of place on the catwalks of New York, London or Milan. What the students achieve is impressive but why they chose to make them can be just as compelling. When students register to take part in the competition, we ask them:
“What is your design’s story? Why did you create this design? What message do you want to express with your design?”
Inspiration can come from unexpected sources.
The seanchai of stitches
At Colaiste Ris in Dundalk, teacher Mardeen McCaughey encourages her students to think of the story first before creating their outfits. Four Colaiste Ris outfits made it to the Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture Regional Finals last year and three went on to the national final in April 2017. Here are the outfits and the stories behind them.
Created by: Grace Brosnan and Aine O’Hagan
“We know a few people who are gay or transexual and they always say they don’t like being labelled something. So we had that idea in our heads and wondered how we could make an outfit based on it. The phrase ‘labels are for bottles’ came up so we decided to take labels off bottles and make the dress out of that. We took ideas off the internet – the different methods of rolling and cutting the labels – and then we kinda put it all together.
Half the dress is made from the bottles themselves and half from the labels. We had a big box of labels in school. The main dress is made from hand-rolled labels rolled into cylinders then stuck on in different directions. The train of the dress is made from labels cut into rings then hand-painted, glued together and layered three times. The amount of work you put into it is unreal so you feel like you’ve achieved something when it’s finished.”
“It was very tedious peeling all the labels off the bottles then rolling all the labels that we needed. And we thought lots of times we were going to run out of labels. We had to get 3,000. It took five months! We used a Pritt stick to stick them together. It’s surprisingly easy to move around in it. It’s sleeveless and it has an open back so if I get hot I can cool down. The amount of work you put into it is unreal so you feel like you’ve achieved something when it’s finished.”
Created by: James Mc Carron, Kieran Lennon and Cathal Purcell
“After the death of Gene Wilder, in 2016, we wanted to make a tribute to his role in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ – Willy Wonka. My old tennis coach has links in Cadburys and they were going to throw out their old misprinted wrappers so I asked is there any chance I could get them instead? We got bags upon bags. We didn’t realise how many we’re were going to get. But we didn’t get a single bar of chocolate. Not one bar!
We started cutting them up and weaving them and gluing them to an old suit of my father’s. It wasn’t going to be worn again. There were a few challenges. Weaving and braiding the chocolate bar wrappers to go on the jacket took a couple of hours every night going at it. Very fiddly. Especially around the lapels and the buttons. There was a lot of them.”
Weaving and braiding the chocolate bar wrappers to go on the jacket took a couple of hours every night going at it. We changed the trousers multiple times. We started off with eggshells and then we realised that they’d smell. Thankfully we realised it before they went on the trousers. Then we thought of sawdust which was very messy. Now we’ve settled on wallpaper trousers (a lot more comfortable than sawdust trousers)which we’ve polished up so it’s nice and bright and ready to dazzle on the stage.
Created by: Emma Duffy, Chloe Murdan, Gráinne Ní Bhroin
“We wanted to raise awareness about mental health and how we all need to open up the box of feelings. You are going to meet at least one person in your life who has dealt with a mental health issue. It’s time to stop making it taboo and allow people to speak openly. We took the metaphor of wallpapering over your feeling and opening the box of emotions. We based the skirt around clam shells because all clam shells look the same on the outside but on the inside each of them has a pearl which is beautiful and unique in its own way. It’s the same with human beings.”
“My mum is an interior designer and she had lots of old sample wallpaper books she gave us. My nan had a jewelry shop in Dundalk that recently closed and she had a lot of broken jewelry left over. For the box we used a storage box covered in wallpaper and pearls.
In the performance I walk out wearing the box then I step out of it. It usually scares the audience! When we did the Trashion Fashion show, the whole room was silent when I stepped out. I try to be a bit creepy like a ballerina or doll in the jewelry box before the real human being comes out. It’s easier to move outside the box. I can do like a wee routine.”
‘Can you see me now?’
Created by: Uche Ibeh and Phil Kirk
“When we were coming up with the idea for the outfit we heard lots of stories about people being bullied online. We wanted to highlight the problem of online trolls who stay hidden but cause so much hurt that’s why the outfit’s called ‘Can you see me know?’
There are 5,000 computer keys on the outfit from keyboards that were going to be thrown away and pieces of material from Hi Vis reflective jackets given to us from a local construction site. Piano keys form the bottom of the jacket and there are toy trolls on the tie to suggest the online trolls.”
The death of George Michael, who suffered because of his sexuality, was also an inspiration for us. In one of his videos he wears a ‘Choose life’ t-shirt so that t-shirt became part of the outfit to suggest that there is always hope and to stay positive.
Find out more
To find out more about Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture 2018, visit the website.