Rose of Tralee 2016

A superbly talented milliner and designer, Rebekah Wall, introduced me to the Chicago Rose Centre early in 2016, before the Chicago Rose was even chosen, and I jumped at the chance to sponsor the future Chicago Rose’s Rose of Tralee gown. A few weeks later, the lovely Maggie McEldowney, a complete natural beauty, was crowned the Chicago Rose. We collaborated on styles and colour and I began designing my first Rose gown.


The initial sketches of the Chicago Rose gown

The aim was to merge Maggie’s personal style with my label’s aesthetic. It was imperative to design a gown that represented Maggie’s elegance, as well as one that had the edge of my other garments. Several designs were sent through and Maggie chose her favourite and production began! This was my first bespoke piece and first time officially pattern drafting to specific measurements so I was apprehensive when I met Maggie in Dublin for the fitting. Fortunately it fit amazing and only minor adjustments needed to be made. Maggie was so warm and welcoming and even brought me beautiful jewellery gifts from her hometown, Chicago! A total sweetheart. After the fitting and adjustments were made, I travelled back down to Tralee to leave off the gown for the final time. Now all I had to do was wait in anticipation!


The Rose of Tralee sign outside the Rose Hotel in Tralee


Details of lace burgundy panels seamed with satin piping


Maggie on the Rose of Tralee qualifying night (non-televised)

The festival continued and Maggie got through to the televised show – meaning that for the first time, one of my garments would be on TV! I waited anxiously for it to be Maggie’s turn and she did amazing in her interview. It was so surreal seeing my gown on TV and more importantly, Maggie looked divine from head to toe. Later that night, they announced the winner of the 2016 Rose of Tralee – CHICAGO!! I wave of messages flooded through social media and support as if I had just won it myself, but it was all down to the wonderful lady in the dress. A Kyree Forrest dress!


Chicago Rose crowned the 2016 Rose of Tralee

My first Rose succeeded all the other Roses from around the world and won one of the most acclaimed competitions in the world. A show close to my heart for personal reasons, this was a very sentimental task and I hope only the beginning of my Rose of Tralee design journey!

From 2017, the gown will be available in the Rose Museum, in County Kerry.