Alicia Rostermundt (17) of Coláiste Bríde, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, secured the top prize at the 2021 Junk Kouture final on Thursday as her design Iconoclastic Fantastic reigned supreme over 39 other designs.
Inspired by iconic designer Jean-Paul Gaultier and singer Janelle Monáe, both known for their "influential androgynous styles and non-conformist approach to fashion", Alicia’s monochrome outfit made from a charity shop find, seatbelts and an old tent wowed the judges as she became the 11th winner of the design competition.
Viewers at home tuned in to RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player on Thursday as 40 incredible designs created and modelled by talented young designers made their bid for Junk Kouture glory.
As always, the golden rule was that all outfits were made of 100 per cent recycled materials, and it was safe to say that this year’s students definitely pushed the boundaries, with bike helmets, yoga mats, silage wrap and even old tights getting a new lease of life as haute-couture creations.
Overall winner Alicia, who was an exchange student from Germany studying in Wexford, wanted to create a design that was for everyone, fashioning a gender-neutral outfit that wouldn’t look out of place on the catwalks of fashion week.
The overcoat was made from an old tent base, hundreds of seatbelts found in scrapyards and webbing from old furniture. These were intricately woven, hand-sewn together and worn over a chequered second-hand trouser suit from a charity shop, which Alicia trimmed with metres of frayed and plaited seatbelts.
An old sun hat, half an old jewellery box and reflective tape painted in black and white were used to make the show-stopping headpiece.
While there was talent and creativity in abundance on show throughout the programme on Thursday night, it was the craftmanship and detailing of the design that made Iconoclastic Fantastic a worthy winner in the eyes of the expert Junk Kouture judging panel of Roz Purcell, Louis Walsh, Michelle Visage, and Stephen McLaughlin, plus technical judges Head of Department of Fine Art and Education in Limerick School of Art and Design Dr Tracy Fahey and Programme Director for Fashion Design at Griffith College Jane Leavy.
Speaking about the winning design, Junk Kouture judge Roz Purcell said: “There was over 100 seatbelts gathered from a scrapyard and you would not even notice. When she walked in, it looked like it had come off the runway. Only when you came up close you realised this couture gown was made out of junk. It was absolutely fantastic, extremely well-executed and she did it all by herself. I would wear it!”
Meanwhile, fellow judge Louis Walsh said he wouldn’t be surprised if the students who appeared on the show will be curating their own fashion collections in the future.
“Junk Kouture gets better and better each year and we are going to have some amazing designers out of this!” he said.
As Alicia walked away as overall winner and winner of the Southeast region, four other designs were crowned regional winners during the show hosted by RTÉ 2FM’s Laura Fox and Emma Power.
East Region winner: 頌歌大龍 (‘Songge Da Long’) by Grace Kenneally from Dundalk Grammar School, Co Louth, made from vintage Vietnamese silk, Ao Dai coat, ballet leotard, old bra, pillow case, duvet, chiffon curtains, chiffon ballet skirt, black collared shirt, boning ribbons from horse riding rosettes, old work trousers, rope, silica beads and palm leaves. Inspired by ancient Eastern Asian fashions, 頌歌大龍 represents the designer’s Vietnamese and Chinese heritage.
North region winner: 'Espoir' by Aoife Duffin and Naoise Gilpin from St. Louis Grammar School, Ballymena, Co Antrim, made from recycled strings, packaging foam, table placemats, table covering, cardboard, metal of a hair band and a form of protective plastic packaging. Inspired by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
South region winner: ‘Ephemeral Bloom’ by Brenda Lim, Brianna Sheehan and Molly Jackson from Coláiste Nano Nagle, Co. Limerick, made from bedsheets, construction mesh, paper coasters, wire, Pearl necklaces, lace, a corset from a wedding dress, cardboard, copper, yoga mats, copper wires, flip-flops, socks, Styrofoam and newspaper. The influence of an Asian heritage and designer Yumi Katsura inspired this creation.
West region winner: ‘Jeaneology’ by Lucy Mitchell from Moate Community School, Co. Westmeath, made from old denim jeans, curtain cord, beads, old pearl earrings, metal zips and buttons. Inspired by endless colours, shades and textures from famous artists the designer admired, including Van Gogh, Vermeer and Frida Kahlo are featured.