19th century church gets makeover for international fashion awards show

 Clare Reidy wearing Maria Mrowca of Krakow Collage of Art, Poland, and Carragh O'Loughlin wearing Colette Dobson of Derby University, with Kerry native Don O'Neill of  Theia Couture. Picture. Brian Arthur

A 19th century church was last night transformed into a fashion mecca for a major international awards ceremony in Limerick.

A leading designer to stars including Oprah Winfrey was among the who’s who of fashion personalities who attended Limerick International Fashion Students Awards 2013.

The venue for the fashion spectacular was the former Franciscan Church on Henry St, which has been playing host to a number of alternative, secular events since it closed its doors in 2008.

The Franciscan order left the 185-year-old church due to declining numbers of vocations.

Yesterday’s event, the first fashion show held in the church, was part of Limerick International Fashion and Design Festival — one of the flagship Gathering events in Limerick this year.

The centrepiece of the festival is the International Fashion Student Awards, which showcases the designs of student designers from colleges across Europe.

The overall winner of the Limerick International Fashion Student Awards receives a €10,000 bursary plus an internship with Don O’Neill, creative director of Theia Couture, who was the chairman of the competition’s judging panel.

The Kerryman is considered one of the brightest talents in the world of haute couture, having previously dressed US chat show host Oprah Winfrey.

“We are thrilled to have someone of the calibre of Don O’Neill getting behind this event,” said Celia Holman Lee, who organised the festival.

“Our own Synan O’Mahony is also involved in the festival, which is a unique opportunity for people working in all aspects of the fashion industry in Limerick to come together and show the world why we are such a force in terms of fashion. We have 19 colleges from Ireland, UK, and Europe coming to Limerick to participate in the student awards.

“The response has been absolutely fantastic and it just goes to show the strong reputation that Limerick fashion has.”

The other judges of the fashion competition included Brown Thomas creative director John Redmond; Sunday Independent and Life magazine fashion editor Constance Harris; and Limerick singer Leanne Moore.


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