Ayrshire fashion students take ‘trash to runway’ in top Junk Kouture competition with celebrity judges

A pair of eco-conscious design students are set to wow celebrity judges at a top competition next week with their high-fashion dresses made from recycled materials.

Elouisa Cairns and Mhairi Chalmers, S6 pupils at Ayr’s Wellington School, are taking ‘trash to the runway’ as they head to London on Thursday, May 19 to compete as finalists in the Junk Kouture fashion competition – the world’s largest sustainable youth fashion program.

The competition sees youngsters from across the UK, Italy, France, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and New York battle it out with hopes of receiving a golden ticket to the first-ever world final taking place in Abu Dhabi later this year.

Other prizes up for grabs in the UK final include a cash prize for schools, Apple packages, and access to education / training programs.

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The girls' intricate designs are made from recycled materials including sweetie wrappers, tea light cases and bin bags
The girls’ intricate designs are made from recycled materials including sweetie wrappers, tea light cases and bin bags

And advanced higher art students Elouisa and Mhairi, both 17, hope their spectacular haute-couture creations will impress a star-studded judging panel, which includes model, actress and Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore.

Mhairi, who will be heading to the University of Salford to study costume design once finishing her exams, created her dress and headpiece ‘Candy Girl’ from Drumstick lolly wrappers, bin bags and paper straws.

She hopes her funky, brightly-colored garment can be seen as a “sign of hope and joy” as the community recovers post-pandemic.

She said: “The design is meant to remind the viewers of joyful memories or perhaps help them to create new ones.

“I decided to focus my design on positivity and happiness due to the amount of sadness and loneliness that has occurred as a result of Covid.

“As we begin to get back to normality, my design can be viewed as a sign of hope and joy for us all to enjoy together.”

Elouisa, left, and Mhairi with their 'Killer Queen' and 'Candy Girl' creations
Elouisa, left, and Mhairi with their ‘Killer Queen’ and ‘Candy Girl’ creations

‘Killer Queen’ by Elouisa is made up of recycled clothing, plastic bottles, tea light cases and art folders.

Elouisa, who is off to St Andrews University to study film and TV, said: “Killer Queen was designed with regality in mind, but at the same time with a dark and fantastical twist, to show that beauty can be twisted.

“Melting was a large part of the construction process. Most ornamental features of it were melted, such as the fans made from art folders and the flowers made from plastic bottles.

“This gave the look a decaying feeling, to highlight how the planet is deteriorating because of our mistreatment.”

Wellington art and design teacher Joyce Morton said: “I’m so proud of them. They’re outstanding students.

“It’s the fact they’re Ayrshire girls and they’re heading to London. It’s amazing. What an achievement. ”

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