Top rower Kate Richardson gets an 'oarsome' makeover
She's more at home in her tracksuit but we took this former Woman of the Year winner out of her comfort zone for a stunning makeover at the chic The Outlet retail centre in Banbridge.
It's Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Kate Richardson as you have never seen her before -- striking a sultry pose in a posh cocktail dress in her first ever professional fashion photo shoot.
Kate -- who confesses to being more at home wearing her sweats in the gym than in the latest high fashion trends -- was given a fabulous style makeover by The Outlet in Banbridge.
This year's Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards is once again being staged in association with The Outlet.
Kate's fashion shoot was just a taste of some of the high fashion which will be on display during a special show by The Outlet at our gala awards night next week.
The 26-year-old record breaking rower from Portadown was treated to the works as she had her hair styled by multi-award winning Belfast hairdresser Leisa Stafford and make-up professionally done by Sharon Watson.
In a selection of styles chosen from spring/summer 2014's monochrome trend, Kate looked stunning as she modelled a casual outfit, a gorgeous cocktail dress and the latest smart office look all from shops at the retail centre.
It was a chance for her to enjoy a well-deserved day of glamour and pampering after the hardship she endured while taking on her awesome Atlantic rowing challenge.
Kate won global admiration when -- even though she had never rowed before -- she volunteered to join a team of three other women to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a small boat to raise money and awareness of human trafficking.
She spent a gruelling 45 days at sea, battling 50ft waves while rowing 3,000 miles to raise over £100,000 for the A21 campaign to stop human trafficking.
Although she confesses to being slightly out of her comfort zone when invited to step into the shoes of a fashion model, Kate was thrilled at the chance of a treat most young women her age would gladly give their favourite frock for.
"It's not really my forte being a model for the day but it was really good fun and such an eye opener," she says.
"The team around me really helped me to relax and enjoy it. I had a lot of fun.
"Leisa Stafford was amazing. She seemed to just put her fingers through my hair and work with it and five minutes later it was like, boom, there was this amazing new look, then she would do it again and create something completely different.
"I usually wear my hair up in a pony tail and she has really made me want to experiment with different looks. I loved the curls she gave me and the beehive."
The fashion was also a revelation to Kate who describes herself as "not a girly girl" and her usual style as casual.
The black Armani Exchange party dress from The Designer Studio wowed her. It was teamed with a gold link necklace from Jaeger and peep toe heels from Daniel Footwear.
Kate says: "Before the shoot I would have avoided cocktail dresses at all costs, they just weren't me.
"I loved the beautiful black dress I was modelling and the whole look, with the hair and accessories was just gorgeous. I won't be ruling them out of my wardrobe in the future."
The psychology graduate, who has just started a new job as family support worker with the Lower Ormeau Residents Group, was also pleasantly surprised by the office wear in the photo shoot.
The 60s inspired dress came from Jaeger as did the handbag, with the gloves from Marks & Spencer and the platform heels from LK Bennett.
She says: "I'm constantly being told I look younger than I am, so I have consciously been trying to dress smarter, especially for work, to try and look my age.
"I loved this look. I felt really grown up in the tunic style dress and it's a style I would never have thought to try on before, but I will be looking out for now."
The casual outfit was right up Kate's street and she was completely in her comfort zone modelling the classic blazer teamed with jeans, both from LK Bennett and white T-shirt from Next Clearance. The outfit was finished off with a Chapelle necklace.
Kate says: "Even though it was a casual outfit I felt really smart and dressed up in it. I loved the tailored jacket with jeans; it was a great look.
"My own style is not grunge or girly but somewhere in between. I would wear worker boots with a flowery skirt. I like clothes that are a bit different.
"I felt really good in all the outfits and it has taught me to try things on even if I don't think they are me.
"I shop often in The Outlet, mainly for workout gear and trainers but I will be visiting a lot more of the fashion shops now."
Ironically her makeover came just two weeks after Kate had challenged herself to spend three weeks without wearing any makeup as part of a church project.
An active member of the Celebration Church in Craigavon, members were encouraged to give up something they loved to see how they would cope.
Kate, who says she wouldn't normally leave the house without wearing make-up, decided to tough it out with a bare face for three weeks.
She says: "I wanted to empower myself by being happy with who I am naturally, without makeup.
"It really challenged me. I thought there was no way I could do it. The first day I really cringed and thought 'oh my goodness people are going to be looking at me and know I am not wearing makeup'.
"It was tough but as the weeks went on I got used to how I looked without makeup and it really helped my self esteem and allowed me to like who I am naturally and accept myself the way I am."
Having survived three weeks with no makeup, Kate said it was a treat to have a professional create a new look for her.
She adds: "I have dark eyes so I always wear browns and golds on my eyes. The make-up artist did a flick with black eyeliner which is something I'd never do and the effect was amazing.
"The whole experience was wonderful and I have learnt so much from it and I am already experimenting with new looks."
Commenting on Kate's fashion shoot, Siobhan McKeown of The Outlet says: "In anticipation of this year's Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards, Leisa and I wanted to treat Kate to a glamorous make-over in recognition of her achievements for her charity.
"We selected a stylish capsule wardrobe for Kate with a theme around work, rest and play. The shoot embraced the elegant monochrome trend, as seen on the spring/summer catwalks with Ralph Lauren and Balmain.
"At The Outlet, we have an extensive range of brands to help you look your best, for less."
DAY OUT WITH SOME FAB SHOPPING
HOME to more than 55 favourite retail brands, The Outlet, Banbridge, is a shopping and leisure destination like no other.
It's a shopper's paradise where you will find permanent reductions of between 30% and 70% in every store.
Among the many top brands are M&S and Gap Outlet, Nike, Timberland, LK Bennett, Fat Face and Jaeger.
There's also a host of cafes, restaurants and leisure activities including the free W5 LITE, all looked after by an award-winning customer service team, making it as popular with families as it is with style lovers. Just 25 minutes south of Belfast, off the A1 at Banbridge, there's free parking too for a great day out.