Sailing ahead with a fashionable look for the races

Sunderland is all the fashion as it gets ready to host the biggest free festival in the UK.

Monday, 11th December 2017, 1:35 pm
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 4:08 pm
The new dress and hat designed by Kathryn Russell.

And to add to the striking image of Tall Ships Sunderland 2018, the event even has its own dress - complete with a ship’s hat.

Model Sophie Grieve proves that she’s shipshape when it comes to promoting the UK’s biggest free event of 2018.

The new dress and hat designed by Kathryn Russell.

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More than 1.5 million people are expected in Sunderland for the Tall Ships Races, with a four day programme of events and entertainment.

It will run from July 11 to July 14 and is likely to attract up to 80 of the most magnificent ships in the world.

To mark the countdown to the festival, organisers commissioned designer Kathryn Russell to create a unique Tall Ships dress, complete with its very own ship’s hat, set on a sea of “waves.”

The hand stitched bodice has been worked to resemble ships’ rigging, with a gold thread galleon stitched under the net skirt, while the jacket has a hand embroidered ships wheel on the back.

The new dress and hat designed by Kathryn Russell.

Hair for the photograph was done by Neville Ramsey, and make-up by Vikky Johnston.

Kathryn said: “It was a great honour to create this dress for the Tall Ships Race 2018 and to incorporate into it a sense of the high seas and the excitement the event will bring to the city.

“The historical feel of the dress harks back to Sunderland’s long-held links with ships and the sea and at the same time I wanted it to have drama and humour, which hopefully is what we’ve achieved.”

Kathryn is based in the North East but sells her bespoke gowns all over the UK and beyond.

The new dress and hat designed by Kathryn Russell.

Sunderland is the first port in the 2018 event before the fleet heads to Esbjerg in Denmark.

Among the highlights of the four days of fun are the Crew Parade in which every ship’s crew will be involved. The parade will weave its way through the city from the Port.

On the last day of the event, thousands of people are expected to watch as the fleet of ships parades along Sunderland’s seafront before heading to the next port.

To find out more about the festival, visit

The new dress and hat designed by Kathryn Russell.