Donegal students win Junk Kouture competition with dress made from glass, milk bottles

Donegal Students Win Junk Kouture Competition With Dress Made From Glass, Milk Bottles Donegal Students Win Junk Kouture Competition With Dress Made From Glass, Milk Bottles
Synergy by Brónach Harkin, Robyn O’Donnell, and Orlaith Doherty of Carndonagh Community School, Co Donegal
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James Cox

Months of sewing, cutting and smashing glass paid off for three Donegal students Brónach Harkin, Robyn O’Donnell and Orlaith Doherty tonight as they were crowned champions of Junk Kouture 2020.

Their design, ‘Synergy’, a fishtail gown made of sea glass, plastic milk cartons and recycled glass such as bottles and jam jars, reigned supreme over 80 finalists from across Ireland as the recycled fashion competition was televised for the first time.

Viewers at home tuned in to RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player on Thursday to witness an array of incredible designs created and modelled by the talented young designers who waited so patiently throughout the pandemic for their moment to shine.

The 2020 final was originally scheduled for April 2020 in 3Arena, Dublin but was postponed on account of the outbreak of Covid-19.


However, all was not lost as Junk Kouture, supported by Creative Ireland, found an incredible alternative to the live event as the final was televised for the first time in its 10-year history last night.

The winning creation ‘Synergy’, a gown inspired by world-renowned designer Elie Saab, certainly displayed the synergy between the three deserving champions, as their combined effort wowed an expert panel of judges including X-Factor judge Louis Walsh and RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage.

Overall winner of Junk Kouture 2020 Synergy' by Robyn O’Donnell, Orlaith Doherty, Brónach Harkin from Carndonagh Community School, Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Modelled by Brónach, dress is made from sea glass, smashed jam jars and petals cut out of milk cartons. Pic: Orfhlaigh Whelan

Under the guidance of teacher Pauline McDermott, students Brónach, Robyn and Orlaith from Carndonagh Community School collected sea glass to sew onto the dress, as well as making glass panelling for the gown from scratch, smashing recycled glass into fine pieces and sprinkling it on top of PVA glue to create the desired effect.

They also cut out every petal on the dress from discarded plastic milk cartons. Thanks to their exquisite craftmanship, outstanding creative prowess and impressive stage presence, the team now walk away with €1,000 in prize money and a further €2,000 for their school.

Synergy team member Robyn O’Donnell said: “We are shocked and so excited to have won, we can’t actually believe that this has happened after everything in the last year, there were a lot of obstacles along the way! Thank you so much to the judges for choosing us. All the hours we spent on this gown have paid off – we collected sea glass on the beach, smashed old jars and bottles and cut out hundreds of petals from milk cartons. Thank you to our teacher for all her encouragement. We loved every moment of the Junk Kouture experience and are so glad that the final got to go ahead.”

Louis Walsh said: “Synergy, that was so different, so original, so authentic and it’s made from glass. Obviously, an awful lot of work went into it and it shows. It’s just absolutely beautiful and a great, great winner – well done Synergy.”

CEO of Junk Kouture Troy Armour congratulated all the finalists.

Glamour Award winner of Junk Kouture 2020‘Imperium’ by model Victoria Canty, Ellen O'Gorman, Saoirse Mc Carra of Presentation Secondary School, Clonmel. Made from discarded drinks cans. Pic: Hannah Cosgrove.

“Well done to all our 2020 finalists who waited so patiently for their moment to shine. I hope everyone watching on TV here in Ireland and in our new international territories on RTÉ Player enjoyed this spectacular show. As always, I am in awe of the talent among these remarkable young people. I would like to extend a huge congratulations to our overall winners Brónach, Robyn and Orlaith – they embody everything that Junk Kouture is about. They have a flair for fashion and sustainability is at the heart of this fabulous creation. I am sure these young creatives have bright futures ahead of them.”

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