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Clean sweep for Coláiste Rís as students march on to Junk Kouture final

Junk Kouture
Caragh Duffy, Esme MacDonagh and Neil McCarron from Colaiste Ris.

Coláiste Rís celebrated a triple triumph on Tuesday after all three of their entries into the Eastern Regional finals of the Junk Kouture competition made it through to the National Finals at the 3 Arena next month.

80 entries were selected from across the Eastern region to take part in Monday’s live event at The Helix in Dublin, including eight from four secondary schools in Dundalk. With only 15 entries making it though to the Grand Finals on April 30, it is all the more remarkable that Coláiste Rís were able to secure three of the 15 spots.


They are now the only school in Louth represented at the Grand Finals, where 75 finalists have also qualified. There is a slim chance of a reprieve for one of the other entries however, courtesy of a new RTE 2FM Junk Kouture Wildcard, which will see one entry from each of the five regions picked to go forward to make up 80 grand finalists in total.

The successful Coláiste Rís entries – all overseen by teacher Mardeeen McCaughey – were Coco de Eco, Roaring 2020s and It’s A Gamble.

Modelled by Caragh Duffy and designed by Cara Gonnelly and Megan Magennis, Coco de Eco waves the flag for what a sustainable notion of luxury can look like. A Chanel inspired look with shoes inspired by Manolo Blahnik, the outfit steers the conversation to look at the climate crisis with a particular focus on sustainability. The team behind it believe in buying better and buying less.

The two piece outfit is made of thousands of price tags collected rom clothing purchases. Each price tag has been individually cut and shaped and sprayed silver to form a backless crop top. The Chanel inspired jacket is made from bottle caps, out-of-date pasta, beads and gems. The hat is covered in more of the same, plus some old brocaded wallpaper. The devil is in the detail.

The Roaring 2020s (Esme MacDonagh, Ella Wynne, Ciara Lennon) outfit harks back to the 1920s, an era when fashion was about liberation and trying new things. The ultra glam outfit focuses on maintaining a certain elegance through times of stress, especially for teenagers.

Inspired by actress Gloria Swanson and evidently by the Gatsby style, the dress is made up of old curtain samples, ornamented by beads, pearls and old jewellery. Unwanted hair extensions were also added to the bottom of the dress – after dying and cutting – to symbolise the dramatic effort hair loss can have as a result of alopecia.

The entire outfit, as modelled by Esme, is hand sewn.

The third outfit was designed and made by Aoife Purcell and Neil McCarron, and modelled by the latter. It was inspired by Spanish designer Loewe, it’s message is a powerful one. Touched by the story of former Armagh GAA star Oisin McConville who has battled a gambling addiction in his past, the tam set out to display the effects gambling can have on a person.

Disused poker chips outline the entire ensemble while belts are strapped across the body to signify the feeling of being trapped and trying to break free from an addiction. The suede jacket is made from tailor trimmings.

All three entries will take part in the 2020 Junk Kouture Grand Final in the 3 Arena on Thursday April 30. As well as the successful entries from Coláiste Ris Dundalk, there were five other competitors from Dundalk on stage on Monday. These were Keep Me Posted (St Vincent’s) Burst of Colour (St Vincent’s), Street Sleeper (St Vincent’s), Green Christmas (St Vincent’s) and FemPower (Dundalk Grammar School).

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