I was in first year at Scoil Mhuire Secondary School, Buncrana when I originally heard of Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture, a few of the transition year students were making designs for the competition in the art room - I was completely in awe!
In 2014, I entered for the first time, I had to beg my teacher to get involved, as it was usually only TY students who could and I was still only in second year, I simply could not wait. The ideas for my first design ‘Off the Rails’ were not my most creative, but my teacher at the time Ms Buchanan was a huge help, she really pushed me in the right direction to think outside the box! I ended up winning the most promising young designer award that year, which gave me the chance to attend a week of tutorials in Limerick School of Art and Design.
Finally, in 2016, I was in Transition Year so I dedicated all the spare time I had creating ‘Anthropocene’. This design, made from anti slip plastic, scrap metals, and glass was awarded the Northern Regional winner and I also was lucky enough to receive the LSAD scholarship prize – I was over the moon! However, I set myself a goal, which I really wanted to achieve, I was determined to be the first boy to ever win Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture.
Last year, I began creating & designing an outfit for the 3rd time, I knew this would be my last chance, so I gave it my all! I challenged myself to make a design without the use of any glue, as I had with my previous outfits. There were so many times I wanted to just give up, but the support I had from my teacher Rois Deeney, my parents and my boyfriend Nathan, gave me the drive to keep going. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I was inspired by the juxtaposition of materials, sharp and soft so I based my whole outfit on masculinity and femininity. I used a trampoline net, silicone from keyboards, and an old carpet making kit, the cages were formed from scrap metal joined together by nuts and bolts. I included a broken chandelier and lace in there too! Every year I got more adventurous with the design of my shoes. Enigmatic's shoes were 12 inches high, suspended on wire rods.
On the day of the final I was so dumbfounded by the high standard of designs everywhere I looked, but I was delighted how my performance went, and knew I had done my my very best, so I would be happy with however the results went.
Firstly, I was called out as the winner of the Griffith scholarship! I was so thrilled, but before i had a chance to process this, I was back on stage as the Northern Regional Winner for the second year in a row. Those few minutes, where I stood on stage waiting for the overall winner to be called out, were so intense, I could barelt stand there with the nerves. When 'Enigmatic' was crowned the overall winner I was lost for words, I froze and couldn’t believe it.
The next day I visited RTE studios to feature on the Late, Late Show, I was still in so much at that point.
Junk kouture has been the best thing to happen to me so far in my life, it probably has shaped me to be who I am today and who I will become in the future. I never considered fashion as a choice to study in university until my experience with the competition, I’ve always wanted to study art but with my successes in fashion I definitely want to proceed in that direction now!