Michael cuts a dash with JLo-inspired gown

Who could fail to be inspired by Jennifer Lopez’s long, lithesome legs?

At least that’s the premise behind this year’s Gillette Venus Fashion Awards.

The pop star and actress is a global ambassador for the company and entrants to the competition had to use her, or, more specifically, her pins, as their muse when conceiving their outfits.

Cork fashion design student Michael Gurhy is one of five through to the national final of the Venus Awards and he is delighted with the chance to put his best foot forward.

“To be nominated for the Gillette Fashion awards is such an honour and I’m thrilled at the opportunity it will give me to showcase my work. Now, I have to make the dress that was included in my submission and I am really excited about the mechanics of putting it together,” said Michael.

The 30-year-old from Bishopstown, Cork, submitted a design for a glamorous mid-length dress, featuring an unusual use of stained feathers and lace. As prescribed by the sponsors, it is in the blue and white of Gillette’s Venus proskin razor.

Michael may be showing a flair for fashion, but his first love was more canvas than chenille, and he graduated with a fine-art degree from Crawford College in Cork, before earning a masters from Central St Martins College, London.

Returning to Cork, he took the advice of two friends, graduates of the fashion and design course at St John’s Central College, and enrolled. He is certain he has found his calling.

“It’s amazing to think that before starting this course I had never used a sewing machine and now I’m one of five people from fashion colleges throughout Ireland to be chosen to make my dress,” said Michael.

“I have always been interested in fashion designers whose work challenges the boundaries between art and fashion, such as Alexander McQueen, Viktor and Rolf, and fashion photographer Steven Klein.

“Doing the fashion design course at St John’s has allowed me to explore that interest. I can’t recommend this course enough. It is a lot more intense and comprehensive than I expected, and I have learned the basics of sewing, pattern drafting, design, garment construction, fashion illustration and business retail, but the support of the teachers Lilian [O’Sullivan] and Christina [Healy] and the skills this course have already given me have been outstanding.”

Ms O’Sullivan says her student’s art expertise has influenced his work.

“Michael’s fine-art background has added an edginess and depth to his designs and we wish him success. He deserves it.”

Fashion is not the only area in which Michael has excelled though.

“I’ve shot some art films, which were shown in the Cork Film Festival. Also, in 2007, I won the Crawford Open competition against 750 artists from around the world, with judges from the Tate Modern and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.”

No doubt, with his Gillette Venus nomination, he has designs on further success.


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