Belfast Telegraph

Titanic dress designer faces a hull of challenge

Rory McCarney

DESIGNER Lizzie Agnew from Fortwilliam, has been commisioned by Titanic Belfast to celebrate the centenary of Titanic’s maiden voyage next year by designing a ‘rivet’-ing dress based on the iconic outline of the new Titanic Belfast visitor attraction.



Such has been the ‘stern’ challenge of capturing the unusual shape of Titanic Belfast, Lizzie has drawn on the services of a local welder, Graham McGarel of Alastair Moore Welding Supplies, to help create an aluminium ‘superstructure’ for what they hope will be a ‘hull’ of a dress.

The superstructure will be layered with metallic grey silk to replicate the anodised aluminium cladding used on Titanic Belfast and will hopefully become the weapon of ‘mast’ distraction the designer is hoping for.

In a change of tack, the dress will also include glass-like panels in its middle sections to reflect the extensive use of glass on the six-floor building overlooking the slipway where Titanic was built.

The Fortwilliam resident at the tiller, Lizzie Agnew, said: “Like most people in Belfast, I was curious when Titanic Belfast started to take shape on the skyline. It was obviously a very innovative and challenging design — just how challenging has become clear with the commissioning of a ‘Titanic Dress’ by Titanic Belfast.

“The first problem was providing the dress with a good structure, given that Titanic Belfast is wider at its top than its bottom, the complete reverse of a traditional gown. The solution was local welder, Graham McGarel, who has produced an aluminium frame to form the central section of the dress. While that may not be the usual way to produce a dress, it does reflect the shipbuilding skills which Titanic exemplified,” added Lizzie.

“The project is a real professional challenge, but I’m thrilled that Titanic Belfast has given me the opportunity to be involved with the centenary celebrations for Titanic, which remains one of the greatest design brands of the modern era.”

With the frame in place, the next task is to find the right combination of fabrics and designs to capture the effect of the building’s distinctive shimmering cladding, which should ‘knot’ be a problem for the talented designer.

Titanic Belfast are hopeful that their designer will ‘seas’ the opportunity and meet their specifications ‘ver-boat-im’ with plain sailing all the way to the launch.

Tim Husbands, CEO of Titanic Belfast, added: “Titanic Belfast will be a great tourist attraction for Belfast, but we also want it to be a focal point for a wide range of projects that will inspire future generations. Lizzie Agnew is a great example of the talent we have available in Northern Ireland and her head-turning Titanic Dress is a good case study of how the ingenuity which lay behind Titanic can be applied elsewhere.”

The Titanic Dress will appear at a major London awards ceremony in October, and at events promoting Titanic Belfast across Europe.

At the time of writing, rumours that ‘toys oar us’ will provide replicas are unfounded.

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