Leading Irish milliner scoops two awards in one weekend for slow fashion brand

AN Irishwoman who heads up a slow fashion brand which prioritises sustainability as well as style scooped two prestigious awards in one successful weekend.

Meath business woman Sarah O’ Rourke from Saraden Designs Millinery Atelier had a very busy weekend earlier this month.

Ms O’Rourke was a finalist in the Meath Business and Tourism Awards 2021 in the Emerging Business Category sponsored by AIB.

On Friday November 5 she was announced as the winner of her category at an event held at The Newgrange Hotel in Navan.

Sarah O’Rourke celebrates her win with her family, Margaret O’Rourke and Jennifer O’Rourke

But this wasn’t Sarah’s only achievement that weekend.

The following day Ms O’Rourke and her mum Margaret and sister Jennifer travelled to Cork for The Cointreau HiStyle Awards 2021.

She was nominated on those awards also, for the Milliner of the Year category, which she also won – seeing her take home her second award of the weekend.

“I am very overwhelmed at winning both awards but so proud of myself,” Ms O’Rourke told The Irish Post.

The Meath Business Awards are a prestigious annual event.

They saw Ms O’Rourke up against established businesses such as Tayto Park, who were also finalists, and the milliner claims she felt slightly out of her depth to be there, but her business pitch to the judges proved successful.

And these are not the only awards the entrepreneur has won this year.

Ms O’Rourke won Business Woman of the Year 2021 for Creative Professional in the Network Ireland Meath Awards and also Event Expert in the Micro Business Awards 2021 – she now goes forward to the UK and Ireland Micro Business Awards, which are due to be held in Scarborough in March 2022.

Her business Saraden Designs Millinery Atelier is a slow fashion brand.

Sarah O’ Rourke at the HiStyle Awards 2021

“All of our pieces including our fabrics are handmade in house by Owner & Head Milliner Sarah O’ Rourke,” they explain.

“We support the idea of creating, designing and buying pieces for quality & longevity.”

They add: “Saraden Designs is a Millinery Design Company who is continuously striving to push boundaries and make bespoke pieces that are handmade, embrace sustainability and present themselves as wearable art pieces.

“Our aim is to capture audiences around the world and show them that millinery can be for everyone, there is a design out there to suit your style and to bring millinery back to the forefront of fashion.”

Ms O’Rourke trained classically in Visual Art Practice & Sculpture Design at I.A.D.T Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

Since finishing formal education she honed her design skills bringing together her love of textile design and sculpture to create beautiful bespoke millinery pieces.

She was chosen to exhibit at London Hat Week in 2016 and 2018 along with a number of worldwide milliners

This led to Sarah showcasing her first collection on the Runway during London Fashion Week 2018.

In 2019 her collections were to be found on the runways of Belfast Fashion Week and Leicester Fashion Week.

She also invited to feature in a Fashion Presentation in Birmingham and became a part of Fashion Revolution Weeks Sustainable Fashion Show in Dublin.

“It is an important event as it questions who made your clothes and holds brands accountable,” she explained.

It was during this year Saraden Designs won Milliner of the year in The Cointreau HiStyle Awards 2019, which led to Sarah becoming a finalist in the Meath Style Awards 2020.

Today Ms O’Rouroke prides herself on creating “individual, bespoke, wearable art head pieces and accessories”.

As a self-taught milliner, who does not follow traditional millinery methods, her label itself focuses on sustainability and she hand makes and sculpts each design herself.

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