Thandi wearing Phoenix
Photo Credit Paul Ormonde
Well the lead up to Belfast Fashion Week was indeed a hectic one. Not only did I create the Millinery pieces I also designed and made the dresses also. This was a first for me but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am considering a dress line now also which is an exciting thing to undertake. As some have you may have already seen ‘The White Collection’ is well white. I had a picture in my head of how I wanted the collection to look and that went completely out the window. Originally I wanted white and I was going to splash it all with inks and once the first millinery design was created, I couldn’t put the ink on it I loved it too much.
So like anything in life there are always little hiccups and well no one ever sees those hiccups behind the scenes. The 15-17 hour days I was putting in with no days off led me to become run down and in turn landed me in hospital 48 hours before the show. The week of the show I was told I had plus sized models which I have absolutely no problem with. I think it is fantastic to have a variety of sizes, but I had no dresses for plus sized models so a whole rejig had to be done on my dresses. I ordered feathers for my pieces at the beginning of March and hey never came so I had to rethink my game plan. All these things make you think on your feet and no matter what you have to keep going because the show must go on.
On March 29th I was up at 5am writing my press release, I had literally run out of time and they needed to be done so once I had completed it myself, my mum and my sister traveled up to Belfast. We delivered my dresses and hats to St Anne’s Cathedral and I have to say I was blown away by the venue. I had seen pictures online but nothing can compare to the real thing. We handed over the designs and there was a slight wave of sadness because up until then I had been a control freak and now it was all in the hands of Cathy and her team.
st anne's cathedral, belfast
For the rest of the day I spent it in the hotel sending out my press releases and then it was time to get ready. I was also proud to be one of the sponsors for Belfast Fashion Week. In the goodie bags everyone would have received a Westwood Gym 7 day pass and a Saraden Designs travel sewing kit.
I had himmed and hawed about what to wear bit of course I had everyone wearing a Saraden Millinery piece on the night. You can see what we wore below and a list of where everything is from.
- Jennifer – Dress: Boohoo, Shoes: Irregular Choice, Earrings: Penneys, Millinery: Saraden Designs
- Margaret – Dress: Kasura Ashbourne, Shoes: had already, Millinery: Saraden Designs
- Sarah – Dress: Kasura Ashbourne, Shoes: bought in New York, Millinery: Saraden Designs
I’ve never had the chance to see my designs on the runway I am always backstage and this time was no different. I watched the first few designers on the runway and I have to say I felt so sick with nerves. It’s the biggest event I’ve done to date and there was such anticipation for my designs I didn’t want to let anyone down. luckily the hairdresser was there to help my put the hats on the girls, a few went out with the hats in the wrong position but its so hectic backstage it was hard to keep track of them all and really no one actually even noticed.
L-R Jennifer O' Rourke, Margaret O' Rourke, Saraden Designs owner Sarah O' Rourke
Backstage during the show
Photo credit @aimeeboy1e
Model - Aimee Boyle
Photo credit @aimeeboy1e
Model - Aimee Boyle
Saraden Designs - The White Collection
Photo credit - Trazanne
Model - Rebecca McGuire
The feedback was unbelievable, I spent ages capturing all the social media so I could look back on them all. It really was a proud moment for myself and I cannot thank Cathy, Zoe and Siobhan enough for the experience. The models also are so professional, know exactly how to work the runway and make the designs come to life.
I learned a lot from this journey, I learned I have to relinquish control sometimes and it is ok to ask for help. I’ve had to learn not to panic because really that gets you no where. I’ve learned that not everyone is going to like my designs and they will be public about it and that’s ok they will never be to everyone’s taste but the most important thing I have learned is that I love what I do.
I have an amazing support system through friends, family and online and I keep going from strength to strength. I have to add also huge thank you’s to my mum and sister who stepped up and helped with sewing and PR bits because without that help I wouldn’t have pulled it all together.
I have picked some of my favourite images we took from the night and popped them below for you all to look at and as ever if you have any question you can email [email protected]