TV Viewpoint: Junk Kouture Grand Finale and Firefly Lane

Fashion is Eternal with RTE’S Junk Kouture

THESE days, the closest most of us will have got to fashion is remembering to put on earrings for a Zoom call, or donning an unstained, not-pyjama top for a Facetime call. Some of us may even have taken the imminent arrival of a delivery person as an excuse to dress up out of loungewear, may even have pulled a comb through their hair before waving through the window at a socially distanced visitor.

But that’s not to say that style and fashion won’t return. In fact, creative students have been busying away for months coming up with outfits for the annual Junk Kouture competition, a really great initiative to encourage sustainability and recycling through an artistic and truly innovative medium.

This year’s competition was slightly different from those that have come before it for reasons we don’t need to spell out, and so instead of an extravaganza at the 3 Arena, the finalists took their creations to spectacular locations around the country for each regional final, including Castle Leslie in the North and Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin.

Two teams in the Western region came from the locality; pupils from Dunmore Community School with Effloresence and students from Presentation College, Currylea with Nespresso Yourself. Their models’ performances in Gloucester House, Birr were certainly two of the best; although it’s inarguably difficult to move gracefully, never mind theatrically with heavy materials at awkward angles weighing you down, the two girls carried their creations off with aplomb.

Michelle Visage, one of the judges, well known for her feisty personality on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Ireland’s Got Talent waxed lyrical about the Dunmore Community School students’ wedding dress, praise indeed and proof that all the hard work is worth it.

The presentations in the five opulent locations reminded me of Russian Ark, a 2002 experimental historical art film that takes the viewer through the Winter Palace in one continuous shot, with actors and extras representing a 300-year history inhabiting each room passed through. Many of the beautiful, outrageous costumes of Junk Couture could have fit right in, with others still added into the mix to show a glimpse of the future.

Synergy, the winning design. Photo via The Irish Examiner

It was a great way of showing off the creations, and even if things are back to normal next year maybe this style of fashion show could stay put. Synergy, a sea inspired gown made of sea glass, plastic milk cartons and jam jars made by Donegal students Brónach Harkin, Robyn O’Donnell and Orlaith Doherty was the worthy winner, an incredibly impressive work of art that genuinely wouldn’t have looked out of place in an established designer’s couture show.

Presented by Laura Fox and Emma Power on Thursday night last, on RTE Two, it was bittersweet to see the winners, contacted via video link, delight in their success from their own homes or classrooms, be-masked and socially distanced from each other.

With no hugging allowed, it was a little sad to see the ecstatic students restrain themselves from congratulating their team mates; with any luck, by the time next year’s grand finale rolls around, distancing of this nature will be a thing of the past.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t witter on about yet another Netflix series this week, and yet here I am, about to witter on about yet another Netflix series. I just couldn’t resist dissecting the strange confection that is Firefly Lane, a friendship-drama that takes place over about 3 decades, from the late 70s to early 2000s.

Starring Katherine Heigl as Tully and Sarah Chalke as Kate, the two best friends who help each other through the ups and downs of life, these actors play their characters from their late teens to mid-forties.

I was really quite mesmerised by the soft-focused, filtered anti-aging techniques applied to 80s and 90s Tully and Kate, the type that all but erases any features not heavily exaggerated by heavy makeup.

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke “in their early twenties” on Firefly Lane

Nevertheless, the lead actresses are convincing in the three stages of adulthood that they portray, and the young actresses that play their younger selves are well cast. I have grown to love the hilarious wigs (there’s an especially funny mullet shared by two actors playing Kate’s brother) over the 8 episodes, and even found myself caring about the trials and tribulations of Tully and Kate.

Firefly Lane is a very schmaltzy tear-jerker, with a self-consciously adult angle (lots of swearing and smoking), but the surprisingly strong performances give it a weight it may not otherwise have deserved.

  • First published in The Tuam Herald on 10 02 21

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