All aboard for the glamorous launch of the 2014 Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland contest!!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

3 FORMER winners of the legendary Miss Northern Ireland contest joined event organiser Alison Clarke and guests on board the beautifully restored Nomadic Belfast to officially launch the 2014 Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland contest.
Pictured (left to right): Emma Louise Dowie, Hannah Clarke, Meagan Green, Alison Clarke, Grace Gilmour, Zoe Salmon and Judith Grey.

Back when I was only 17, my cousin's then girlfriend, now wife Louisa-Jayne Brown lifted the sparkling Miss Northern Ireland crown.....the beginning's of a modelling career that has subsequently spanned many years since! Both Louisa-Jayne and past winners will tell you what an amazing experience it is to take part in the competition and how their year as Miss Northern Ireland is truly an once in a lifetime experience, creating memories and providing invaluable experience in the industry!

I was therefore extremely pleased when Miss Northern Ireland event organiser Alison Clarke invited me to join them on the beautifully restored Nomadic Belfast to officially launch the 2014 Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland contest!

It was so nice to catch up with former winners, fashion bloggers and members of the press as we waited to hear the exciting news about this year's contest which is now in its 28th year! Organised by ACA Models, there will be 14 heats held across Northern Ireland starting on 27th February at 21 Social, Belfast and finishing on 27th April at Betty Blacks, Bangor to find 28 hopefulls who will compete at the grande finale on Monday 12th May at the historic Europa Hotel, Belfast! The glittering event will be hosted by former Miss Northern Ireland and television presenter Zoe Salmon and UTV’s Marc Mallett.

Yours truly attending the 2014 Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland contest at the Nomadic, Belfast.

Catching up with friend, Fashion designer Lisa McCabe of label "Nor Lisa"!

Contest organiser Alison Clarke welcomed assembled guests, former winners and 2014 hopefuls to the launch event, saying: “It was wonderful to launch the contest alongside our headline sponsor Open + Direct on board the beautiful Nomadic Belfast, which has been restored to her original glory. Over the years the Miss Northern Ireland contest has grown in stature so we wanted this year’s launch to be somewhere meaningful that represented the best of Northern Ireland.

“Our contest is all about finding talented young women, who will be judged not only on their appearance but also on their presence, self expression, intelligence and poise. We were overwhelmed by the number and calibre of the girls who graced our contest last year and as such, we have introduced an extra heat to accommodate them.

“The winner will become an ambassador for Northern Ireland at events far and wide during 2014, so it’s vital they have a great personality too!”

Pictured (left to right): Zoe Salmon, Angela Mountstephens, Meagan Green, Mr Northern Ireland, Ross Lauder, Alison Clarke, Judith Grey and Catherine Jennings.

It was also was a great chance for me to catch up with the current Miss Northern Ireland, the lovely Meagan Green to talk all things fashion of course and to reflect over her year as Miss Northern Ireland!! 

Myself with the current Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland 2013, the lovely Meagan Green!

Current title holder Meagan Green said: “It was an honour to be crowned Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland 2013. I’ve had the best year of my life representing Northern Ireland at charity and business events throughout 2013. Not to mention the stellar prize package, which included a modeling contract with ACA Models, a Kia car from Downey’s, a new wardrobe of clothes, beauty treatments and products, basically everything a girl could ever wish for.

“The title has given me the chance to travel as far as Indonesia to take part in the Miss World contest and meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. The contest is a great opportunity for local girls to network, meet new people and gain confidence.”

Pictured is Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland 2013, Meagan Green.

Colin McEvoy, Head of Open + Direct said: “Everyone at Open + Direct’s 15 local branches is excited to be involved with the iconic Miss Northern Ireland contest in its 28th glamorous year. We’ll be at every regional heat, sitting in one of the judge’s chairs and will be running a range of fantastic competitions up until the final.

“No doubt, this year’s contest will be as fun and glamorous as ever and we’d like to wish all the girls taking part the best of luck. Open + Direct looks forward to crowning a new winner who will represent Northern Ireland in the Miss World Contest.”

I had such a lovely time catching up with everyone at the event, and cannot wait to attend the opening heat at 21 Social on 27th February! I've always had such a fabulous time attending the Belfast heats in previous years (click HERE for my blog post on last year's Belfast heat) and I wish all the 2014 contestants all the best for this year's contest!

As for what I wore to the launch, well Miss Northern Ireland is always so glam I just had to wear a dress!! This time I went for a vintage body con bandage dress (the first dress of this style I ever bought!) in an eye popping purple from Oasis and accessorised it with a vibrant and striking zebra print cardigan and matching bag from Karen Millen! I finished the look off with some fabulous arm candy in the form of my Marc by Marc Jacobs stacked charm bracelets from Brown Thomas in matching colour hues to the Karen Millen zebra print!

Purple body con bandage dress from Oasis, Zebra print cardigan (KJ117) & Mini zebra sack bag (GJ068) both from Karen Millen, Marc by Marc Jacobs stacked charm bracelets from Brown Thomas.

Event organisers are seeking ambitious young women aged between 17 and 24 years old from all parts of Northern Ireland to compete for the crown in May. Entrants should send a photograph with their name and address to the Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland Contest, 381 Beersbridge Road, Belfast, BT5 5DT.

For further information and a full list of heats and prizes, please visit

Pictured is Open + Direct Miss Northern Ireland 2013, Meagan Green.

Massive thanks to Lisa James, Account Executive Carlton Baxter Communications for press release and all relevant imagery by Brendan Gallagher.

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