Some of Derry’s most famous landmarks could be broadcast to an estimated two billion people on Saturday, as a local woman dons an outfit designed by some of the city’s best up and coming talent at the Royal Wedding.
Catherine Cooke and her daughter Julie-Ann Coll both received invitations for the nuptials between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and will make their way to London this afternoon.
In the quest to find the perfect outfit for the once in a lifetime occasion, Catherine was pointed in the direction of the Fashion and Textile Design Centre (FTDC) on Shipquay Street by Claire Magee of Innovate NI.
Co-Ordinator of FTDC Deirdre Williams said that the team came together to create the outfit for Catherine in just three weeks. “We thought it would be amazing to make the hat, and then we talked to Catherine about her dress and she said she didn’t actually have something.
“We got the team together in the Hub, and got them to design the dress. We took Catherine through a process about fabrics and colours. She had the chance to choose what she wanted.
“Fabricworld sponsored the fabric, and Lermagh Graphics did the print on the fabric for us. It’s a great thing for the city, it opens up the possibility for designers to get their fabrics printed in Derry. The dress has been designed, sourced, printed and made in Derry. It’s great to show that communities come together and the talent is there.
“Nicole is a very talented designer, and a solid hard worker, she deserves all the success that she gets.
“Paul has his own business here, he’s an excellent ambassador for the Hub,” said Deirdre.
Milliner Paul Stafford, along with wife Selina Horshi, has based the Season Hats in FTDC for the last 18 months, so items such as Catherine’s hat can be made in the city centre.
“It’s all been very quick, and creating the piece has involved both the Fashion Hub and the Fab:Lab in the Nerve Centre
“I first met Catherine a couple of weeks ago, and she tried on shapes and materials that worked well for her and the event. There was lots of playing about with styles and working out the scale of the piece as well.
“There were lots of decisions involved with the fabrics, colours, and scale.
“We came up with a piece that just works really well with Catherine’s features, and the fabrics of the dress as well,” said Paul.
Speaking about the possibility of his design being broadcast to homes across the globe, Paul said the attention is “lovely.”
“The public attention is lovely, internationally but also as a local maker. We’ve been over here for around a year and a half now, and it’s nice that we can make everything in the centre of the city. It’s good to let people know we’re here from a local perspective,” he added.
Print designer Nicole Scott was tasked with designing a print for the dress, which was inspired by Derry.
“At the bottom I gave it an oakleaf border. On the top there is a city scape, which is a collage of iconic buildings and monuments from across the city centre, including the Guildhall, the hands across the divide and the Diamond.
“We were only asked a couple of weeks ago, so it was a short space of time, and had to have it done in a few days. Catherine is happy, and it means a lot to her, which is great,” said Nicole.
Speaking ahead of their trip to London, Catherine and Julie-Ann said they “can’t wait for the buzz in London.”
Catherine works for Foyle Women’s Information Network, while Julie-Ann is involved with Life After Loss. Catherine added that she thinks the print on the dress is “amazing.”
“It started with the hat, and after I spoke to them about the outfit and told them I’d have to travel as there’s not much off the rail fo rplus size. So they said there’s a gap in the market and decided to make me a dress.
“Derry is renowned for its charity work, but also the shirt factories, so this is bringing the two of them together,” added Catherine.
The FTDC is supported by the Inner City Trust. For more information visit