Belfast Telegraph

Young NI designer Hamill wins national award with ‘doll’s house’ shoes

By Sue Doherty

A 23-year-old design student has received a coveted fashion award for her shoes which were inspired by dolls’ houses.

Rachel Rose Hamill from Portadown was named National Footwear Student of the Year at a glittering ceremony in London last Thursday night.

The awards are run by the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, one of the oldest livery companies in the City of London.

“I still can’t believe I won,” said Rachel, after receiving her award from international shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood. “Honestly, I was so overwhelmed when they announced my name. I was shaking."

“I am over the moon that all of my hard work is paying off."

Asked how she came up with her innovative and fanciful design, the 23-year-old told the Belfast Telegraph: “My portfolio was inspired by the Victorian architecture in Birmingham and London. There are a lot of buildings that look like dolls’ houses and that became my theme.”

Rachel plans to use some of her £5,000 prize money to launch her own footwear label, called Rachel Rose, and also intends to treat her parents to a holiday to thank them for all their support.

The award marks a great way to finish her time at De Montfort University, Leicester, where Rachel is just completing an honours degree in Footwear Design.

It’s a long way from St John the Baptist primary school in Portadown and St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon. The career path is a bit of a distance from where she originally set out too.

“I actually started off as an architecture student at Queen’s but decided it wasn’t for me,” Rachel recalled. “I took an arts foundation course at Southern Regional College in Newry  instead and my tutor told me there was a really good course in footwear at DMU.

“I hadn’t even thought of footwear design at the time but I love it. When I was younger and people used to say to me, ‘what do you want to do?’, I used to tell them that I wanted to be a designer but I didn’t know what kind. Now I know.”

Rachel was also singled out for honours at SRC for another of her imaginative designs. The college was so impressed with her final installation, inspired by an “abandoned carnival” theme, that they purchased it from her in 2013.

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