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Students use St Anne's Cathedral aisle as fashion catwalk

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 18/04/2015

Dearbhla Hogan models a garment
Dearbhla Hogan models a garment
Thandi Dube models a colourful knitted jumper
Sarah McDonald
The impressive interior of St Anne’s Cathedral

Its sacred space has never witnessed anything quite like it.

The iconic aisle at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast will be transformed into a catwalk for the day and a fashion show which is sure to ruffle the feathers of some of the congregation.

But the dean has already laid down the law that there must be no lingerie and no skimpy outfits on display.

These are the rules the team of students must abide by to hold fashion show in the 116-year-old cathedral.

Dean John Mann and the cathedral team have agreed to let the Ulster University catwalk extravaganza go ahead on Friday May 29 in the Donegall Street venue on the strict understanding clothing worn by the models will not be too revealing.

On the appropriateness of a sacred space being used for a fashion show, Dean Mann said: "It is something we have talked through.

"We would not want anything very revealing or lingerie or anything like that. It has all been talked through.

"I think it should be a very nice event and people will like to have it there."

UU's Belfast School of Arts' Graduate Fashion Show is staged at the end of each academic year to showcase Northern Ireland's emerging new designers.

It was held last year at the T13 urban sport and events venue in the Titanic Quarter.

Over the years a number of requests have been made for fashion shows to be staged at St Anne's, which is a Belfast landmark and one of the city's most beautiful buildings, inside and out.

Next month's event is the first one that has been agreed. "It is the first time a fashion show has been held at St Anne's Cathedral," Dean Mann said.

"In the past there has been one at St Colmub's Cathedral in Londonderry so this isn't the first time a fashion show has been held in a cathedral.

"We have had requests before. We look at all these things and decided yes for a number of reasons.

"One is that the cathedral and university are very close together and we do lots of things together." Works of art on display in the cathedral include mosaics, textiles, carvings and also historical artifacts.

St Anne's has commissioned art work from the university on many occasions over the last 50 years, including a fabric Titanic memorial.

Some of the robes clergy wear each Sunday were designed and made in the textile department at the university.

"Within the textile department over the last three-and-a-half years I have been here, we have commissioned three pieces of arts, so there is a good relationship with students and staff," Dean Mann said.

"The fashion show is on the back of us working together on a number of projects.

"Also, this is because of its students and it's good the cathedral involves itself with the student community and being part of their work and community."

A UU spokeswoman said the end-of-year fashion show was still at the planning stage and its students are looking forward to the event.

"We are excited to have secured such an iconic, beautiful venue as St Anne's Cathedral for this landmark event which provides a new generation of talented designers with an opportunity to showcase their cutting-edge fashion concepts," she added.

"The show will not contain any nudity and our students are working closely with the cathedral and the Dean to ensure that all other arrangements are appropriate to the venue, this includes music choices being fully approved by the cathedral."

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