Rachel has designs on career in fashion

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Young Hawick fashion designer Rachel Connelly hopes her win in a national competition will give her career a major boost.

The former Hawick High School pupil, who graduated from Heriot-Watt University’s fashion design in industry course two years ago, was named as its Young Designer of the Year for 2015 by the National Sheep Association at last month’s Royal Highland Show.

Along with fellow finalist, Louise Devlin, Rachel saw her three garments shown off on the specially-constructed catwalk in one of the sheep marquees by models, including 2014 Ms Scotland, Ellie McKeating.

For her entries, Rachel opted for a dress, top and skirt and a patterned tracksuit for the competition, which was aimed at showing off the versatility of wool.

“I was trying to get away from the traditional use of tartan and tweed for your average sort of kilt or hacking jacket,” explained Rachel, who works in a knitwear mill near Hawick, this week.

“I was looking to put a 21st-century spin on it. The sponsors of the competition, Abraham Moon & Sons, gave us free rein to go onto their website and choose the fabric we wanted and then we had between three and four weeks to produce the garments.

“I went for teal and turquoise for the dress, a pale blue organza for the top and skirt, and then Black Watch tartan for the tracksuit, and I was pretty pleased with the way they turned out.

“I am something of a perfectionist and will happily stay up all night working on something to make sure it is the absolute best it can be.”

Rachel, 23, is hoping the competition win and resulting publicity will help boost her career as a designer creating bespoke garments under her own label.

“That’s the dream anyway,” she said. “But fashion is a notoriously difficult industry to break into, so fingers crossed after winning this competition!”

As well as the coveted trophy, currently in pride of place on the mantelpiece at the home of her parents, Shaun and Donna, in Hawick, Rachel will get access to a stock of fabric supplied by Abraham Moon & Sons to help with her future design projects.