Three Dubai students, who crafted a fashionable dress out of sweet wrappers, have qualified for the finals of a prestigious international recycling competition.

The Grade 8 students from the Swiss International School Dubai (SISD) have secured a place at the Junk Kouture World Finals in London to present their unique dress design, ‘Candylicious.’

Violette, Sacha, and Mia — all aged between 13 and 14 — began working on this project as part of an after-school activity.

Made out of sweet wrappers — most of which the trio collected during trick or treating at Halloween — as well as pasta packaging, chip bags, food labels and popsicle sticks, the dress is colourful and chic. “We went through several fashion magazines and browsed through red carpet looks before settling on this design,” said Sascha.

The students wanted to make the dress as colourful as possible to make a statement. “We wanted to convey the impact of pollution nowadays, especially plastic and trash going into landfill,” said Violette. “Food industries produce so many packaged foods everyday, and all those wrappers can harm the environment.”

Junk Kouture is an annual, global recycled fashion competition which challenges students aged 13 to 18 to design, create and model high-end couture made from recycled materials.

The creative competition takes in elements of fashion, design, engineering and environmental sustainability, encouraging young people to create striking works of recycled couture that wouldn’t look out of place on the world’s most famous runways.

According to Mia, when the girls first began crafting the dress, they thought about making it out of masks. “But we soon realised that used masks would be unhygienic and hard to clean,” she said. “So, then we decided to settle for sweet wrappers as these are relatively simpler to clean and use.”

The girls spent a long time coming up with the design. “We spent more than a month just brainstorming the project,” said Sascha. The team worked on their shortlisted design every Tuesday, as part of the art fashion after school club, with help from their teacher Teresa Pollard.

The outfit, once complete, was presented at the regional competition, held in Abu Dhabi. Mia modelled the outfit, to the tune Crazy in Love by Beyonce. Sacha experimented with make-up to create a fun and unique look to complement the outfit.

Out of the 40 designs presented in Abu Dhabi, only the top 10 were selected to represent the UAE at the finals in London.

The girls admitted that they faced several challenges during the design process. “It was hard to settle on one design and we changed the dress four times,” said Violette.

It was also difficult for the team to find time to work on their project in between their busy schedule. “We only had the after-school activity once a week,” said Mia. “We had to find time outside of that to work on our own because it required a lot of time to put together.”

Sascha also said that the biggest lesson they learnt from working together was finding the middle ground. “All of us had so many different ideas but we had to meet each other in between,” she said. “It was a lesson in teamwork for us.”

The girls are now excited about going to London for the finals. “We are also a bit nervous,” said Violette. “But we can’t wait to compete with the other cities and hopefully win.”

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