Homelessness crisis and beauty industry inspire Ursuline Junk Kouture gowns






Homelessness crisis and beauty industry inspire Ursuline Junk Kouture gowns

Students Aislinn Maher, Siobhan Greene and Aoife Dempsey produced their stunning creation ‘ Imperium’ using paper and leather

Outfits inspired by the current housing crisis, Irish music and the beauty industry are getting ready to vie for a spot on the catwalk following the combined efforts of 36 students from the Ursuline Secondary School Thurles for this year’s Junk Kouture show.

A record number of transition year students worked in teams of three to create a range of truly exquisite gowns made from recycled materials including books, make up packaging, wires, CD's, tin whistle's and tiles. 

Palette Prisoner

The dress ‘Palatte Prisoner’ used materials from the beauty industry like cosmetic boxes, inglot bags, cotton buds, mascara brushes, lipsticks and make up mirrors. The creation, modelled by Benita Wrochna, reflects the unrealistic expectations and impossibly high standards that exist around female beauty. The team, which included Kaitlyn Egan and Kayleigh Fogarty felt that women’s mental health can often suffer as a result of society’s expectations on them to look a certain way or to wear a certain mask.

All Wired Up

Electricity was the inspiration behind the dress entitled ‘All Wired Up’. The team of Saoirse Quirke, Alannah O’Donoghue and model Elena Quirke wanted to draw attention to a resource that we all take for granted. With the flick of a switch there is instant light, heat, boiling water but behind every socket, every plug, every button or dial there exists entire networks of cables, wires, fuses and flexes. Using wires and cables as their key components and stripping back the plastic tubing to reveal the copper beneath, the girls wove the top and skirt into different, eye-catching patterns. Impressively the team constructed their own loom to enable them to weave this rigid, un-pliable material.

Timpeall na Tíre

Irish music was the idea that drove Ciara Gleeson, Lauren Campion and Laura Power to create a dress that is an homage to our musical heritage. This piece is a reminder of our rich and unique tradition of song, dance and music.  The circular skirt is created from CD’s, cut, sanded and attached to a piped frame. The fiddle forms the striking centre piece on a papier-maché bodice. The headpiece consists of tin whistles and a fully functioning flute made by the team themselves.

No Place like Home

This dress was designed as a response to the current housing crises. It represents the most basic human desire for people to have a home of their own. Students Emma Dunphy, Lauren Maher and model Aine Looby sourced their materials from home interiors and the home comforts denied to so many in today’s seemingly affluent society, the team opted for a wow factor skirt. They used colour cards from paint shops to construct a colour wheel which was sewed onto a large hooped underskirt. The top was made with a combination of wool, wallpaper and mosaic tiles with contrasting weaves on the back. The key motif headpiece symbolises the handing over of the keys, a very significant event in a home buyers experience.

Man v’s Nature

This costume was designed with our delicate environment in mind. It combines elements from the natural world like wood and trees with the man-made manufactured world. It is a reflection of the uneasy relationship that sometimes exists between Mother Nature and man’s relentless drive towards progress. The team of Alix Noonan, Aisling O’Regan and model Kate Quinn clearly recognise the importance of sustainability. Their piece encapsulates the obligation on this generation not to exploit the world we live in but instead see it as the rightful inheritance of those who will come after us.  The bodice consists of many tiny individual pieces of different woods, cut sanded and arranged in a contrasting timber pattern. The high-low skirt is made from sandbags and the curled effect was painstaking crafted by hand.


The collaboration of Aislinn Maher, Siobhan Greene and Aoife Dempsey produced the stunning creation entitled ‘Imperium’ coming from the idea that knowledge is power. Their inspiration is the written word. The girls view books and the knowledge that lies between their covers as a very powerful tool, banishing ignorance, warming the soul and elevating the mind. That is the lofty ideal the team have chosen to portray in a highly fashionable way. The key components of their couture piece are paper and leather. A bodice of leather spines is combined with a delicate skirt crafted from printed pages into flowers and fans. The shoes are a work of art in themselves, made from scratch out of books, paper, bookmarks and leather.