One man’s junk is another’s treasure

Posted on: 8th March, 2016

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Ten creative and resourceful groups of students from West Cork schools are eagerly preparing to take on a fashion challenge on March 11 in the Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture Southern Regional Final. The students will showcase their couture creations made from rubbish and recycled materials in an electrifying on stage performance in Limerick.

Students from Bandon Grammar School, Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, Clonakilty Community College, Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai, Colaiste Na Toirbhirte, Bandon and Mount Saint Michael, Rosscarbery are all competing in the hope of earning a place in the Grand finals and winning the top prize of €2,500 for their school. With almost 3,000 students entering this year, the competition has seen the greatest number of applications to date, making the judging process the toughest yet.


Mount Saint Michael team ‘Freedom Feathers’ is a group of three, Jane Roycroft, Sarah McCarthy and Emer Perkins. The students’ design process started off with an ‘ice queen’ design made from milk cartons, which later developed into a ‘bird’ dress. “We cut up milk cartons into feather shapes and glued them all together,” says Jane. “We finished the front of the dress by adding a fiery centre area made out of orange netting glued onto reflective Crunchie wrappers. We also added a spine to the back of the dress using milk carton handles. The headpiece is made out of wire hangers covered again in the milk carton feathers and orange netting.”

The project took the girls four months to complete, however the model had to be cut out of the dress, so the group is now in the process of putting it back together for the Regional competition.

The design represents freedom, freedom of imagination and also the liberty of a flying bird. “A bird is a messenger and in this concept we hope to convey the constant struggle for freedom just like our forefathers in Easter of 1916. Here we recycle the past to create the future,” explains Jane.

‘Steel Elegance’ from Colaiste na Toirbhirte is a collaboration between Sophia Jumaa, Suzanne Casey and Aoife O’Mahony. Inspired by 1920s fashion, their interpretation of the Flapper dress is created using can pulltabs, soft drink cans, recycled jewellery, an old broken disco ball, nails, a used etching plate and recycled cooking trays. “We transformed the dull, rough metals into something glamorous, fit for a 1920s socialite,” says 15-year-old Sophia.

Sacred Heart Secondary School students Eabha Walsh, Hannah Deasy and Gwen McCarthy used Cleo Pathra for design inspiration. Their project ‘Cleo’ uses woven pieces of newspaper and cut up milk cartons accessorised with Nespresso coffee capsules. “We all believe in the power of women, so we decided to use Cleo Pathra as our theme for the outfit because she is such a strong, beautiful and powerful female historical figure, says Sophia (16).

Nineteen-year-old Samuel Kudela, a student at Clonakilty Community College has loved fashion from a young age and hopes to go on to study it at Third Level. “I used to be obsessed with Alexander McQueen; he is a big inspiration to me and I think he was a revolutionary in the fashion industry. I used to watch the Victoria Secrets fashion show instead of doing my homework,” says Samuel.

Samuel’s project ‘Illuminati’ was inspired by a Madonna show he went to see a few months ago. “I wanted to create something original and when I saw the metallic diamond masks worn by the dancers in Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour, I decided to create something ‘Illuminati’. I think it’s something new even with the horns and the skirt and I haven’t seen anyone doing it yet in Junk Kouture.”

Kasia Bednarz (16), a student at Sacred Heart Secondary School in Clonakilty decided to create her outfit using two of her favourite things — books and fashion. “My inspiration for this dress was the 1950s. I wanted it to be glamorous and elegant but quite simple, as I believe less is more.”

In her design, Kasia used an old corset that she bought in a charity shop and pages from old books. “I also used old newspapers, an old plastic bag that was wrapped around a baby pram when my parents bought it, used fairy lights and my mum’s high heels!”

Each of the 100 roses on her dress took Kasia 20 minutes to make.

Anna O’Mahony Sinnott, Jennifer Abbott and Emma Stokes from Bandon Grammar School used ‘change’ as the theme for their dress. “We felt this was very appropriate as we are in transition year and we are also changing junk into something beautiful,” explains Anna.

The girls named their dress ‘Féileacán Morpho’, after a type of butterfly found in North America, which looks blue when reflected by water.

The dress is made from plastic bottles, metal bottle caps, chicken wire, old fencing wire, a corset, worn tights and school shirts.

‘Lady Loo’ is the creation of Sadhbh Wiseman, Rachel O Regan and Mary Hilda Hurley, transition year students from Colaiste Pobail Bheanntraí.

Inspired by the fashion style of music artist Lady Loo, the students made their dress from different types of cardboard (shredded boxes and toilet rolls) and hula hoops. “We got our school friends and family to collect toilet rolls and also plagued the Sodexco Maintenance team in our school to save as many rolls for us as possible,” says Sadhbh.

Andrea Stock, Caroline Downey and Jessica Cronin, also from Coláiste Pobail Beanntraí in Bantry called their design ‘Miss Frangelic’, taking inspiration from fashion at the Races. The dress is made entirely of recycled bubble wrap and decorated with a few old necklace beads.

Established in 2010 by entrepreneurs Elizabeth Curran and Troy Armour from Co. Donegal, The Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture competition has seen thousands of teenagers’ work submitted over the past five years, with some spectacular and awe-inspiring pieces gracing the competition’s regional and national catwalks.

The Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture competition is open to all second level students across Ireland and Northern Ireland. For further information, please visit, Facebook or Twitter.

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