WEST Tyrone is proving to be the hub of high-fashion and creativity, as two budding local dress designers are now in the grand finals of a prestigious competition.
Both 25-year-old Jill Hyndman from Castlederg and 26-year-old Brigid McCullagh from outside Plumbridge have made it through to the final three contestants in the running to win the Richmond Centre’s ‘Miss Earth NI National Costume Design and Creation’ competition.
The star-prize is a £500 grant to create the bespoke dress which the entrant has designed, and a fabulous trip to the sunny Philippines to attend the international beauty pageant, Miss Earth.
The winning dress will also be worn by the Miss Earth Northern Ireland representative onstage, giving the successful designer international recognition.
As the competition’s theme this year is ‘Preserve and Restore Mother Nature’, each costume designed must be made from environmentally-friendly materials.
Fittingly, finalist Jill Hyndman’s dress features a trio of natural silk fabrics – silk chiffon, silk lace and silk ribbon.
Its bodice is inspired by Celtic patterns and will be made from crocheted silk ribbon.
To add an extra classy touch, Jill’s dress begins as a knee-high cape and can be unbuttoned and folded down to reveal a wispy number with cascading ruffles.
“It is a design that I am very proud of – I wouldn’t change anything about it,” Jill, who is currently studying a BA in Fashion Design at Bath Spa University, said.
Finalist Brigid McCullagh studied Fashion Management at Belfast Metropolitan and graduated in 2014.
Her floaty and feminine dress design is created using fabrics only from Northern Ireland to promote awareness of the country’s clothing and garment industries.
Inspired by designers such as Zac Posen, Ralph & Russo and Paolo Sebastian, her design encapsulates the four elements of earth – wind, fire, earth and water – and will be made predominantly of flowing linen.
It features small, dainty flower details made from hand-felted wool from her father’s sheep which graze upon the Sperrin mountains. They will be white in colour to represent pretty Irish white flowers and fauna which appear in Spring.
“If I win, it would mean so much to me,” Brigid, who currently works as a full-time dress designer in Dungannon, said.
“I am a bit of an environmentalist, and preserving nature is important to me. Anyone who knows me, especially in work, can say I have everyone printing double sided!
“I love what I do – it is a challenging and fun environment to work in. And to see Miss Earth NI wearing my design on a global stage would be a great honour.”
The overall winner – the entrant with the most public votes on Facebook – will be revealed this Sunday, May 28.
To cast your vote for either Jill Hyndman, Brigid McCullagh or third finalist, Niall Kelly from Donegal visit Richmond Centre’s Facebook page.