Final cut for fashion students
With influences ranging from ‘The Virgin Suicides’ to climate change and Eileen Gray, the work of Ireland’s fashion graduates promises to be entertaining
Final year DCAD fashion students Amie Egan, Anna Gyo, Audrey Kennealy, Tish Carol, Gwen Cunningham, Ciara Lennon, Rachel Duke, Elaone Cawley, Andrew Bell, Hannah Choy-O’Byrne, Aimee Chan, Naoise Farrell, Alice Doherty Lily Spain, Tutors; Oonagh Benner, Sandra Coller, Clare Daly, Aine Cullen, Linda Byrne and Bernie McCoy. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
It’s May – spring fever time for the darling buds of Irish fashion who are hard at work at their sewing machines completing their graduate collections. Twenty-seven graduates of the Limerick School of Art and Design will open the season on May 15th in the Milk Market in Limerick and 15 graduates from the National College of Art and Design will show on May 23rd in the galleried interior of St Catherine’s Church on Thomas Street, Dublin. (Left: Hannah Moran: green boucle and distressed leather jacket with lame skirt.)
The influences cited by the students for their collections are full of mischief, imagination and diversity. They’re everything from The Virgin Suicides, climate change and Shirley Temple to Claddagh rings and Eileen Gray. According to Linda Byrne, NCAD tutor, her students are very concept- and idea-driven with some more commercial in their outlook than others. Anne Melinn, the head of fashion at LSAD, says her students are very ambitious, proactive and entrepreneurial – they blog and update their websites continually.
Both Melinn and Byrne say that androgyny continues to be a strong design theme in the students’ work, Melinn arguing that sexual rebellion and the shock factor remain preoccupations. The emphasis on textiles and surface experimentation is notable in the work of the NCAD students, many of whom create their own fabrics by knitting or in other ways. Rachel Duke, for example, uses macramé to join materials together. Andrew Bell deconstructs and reinvents handbags in his “Wrap. Clench.Clutch. Consume” collection. (Right: Colin Horgan: navy wool dress with blue silk chiffon detail)
The Limerick fashion show will highlight Paris-based Irish designer Sharon Wauchob’s latest collection, which will be flown in from France accompanied by the designer. She will also choose one graduate for a six-month paid placement at her studio in the Marais at the event, which is sponsored by Bord Gáis.
In June, LSAD will show at London Graduate Week, the only Irish college selected for the event, a major platform for the students and the college.
For the students, the most important and influential part of their courses is work experience, often a stepping stone to a career. According to a recent UK estimate, graduates who have done internships are 50-60 per cent more likely to get a job. (Left: Aimee Chan, Kastom Dresing Blong Yumi)
In the past year Limerick students have travelled on six-month placements to such places as London, Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona and Australia. “They come back fired up with a new energy,” says Melinn. “They will know what they want to do and indeed what they don’t want to do.”
Most NCAD students get placements in London, which is where most now want to find work. In Ireland, student support and employment comes from companies such as Styletex, Dunnes Stores and Penneys along with smaller Irish designers such as FeeG, Heidi Higgins and Niamh O Neill. (Right: Trish Carroll, Mother Says)
Talking to the fledgling designers gives some idea of how their ideas take shape. “I like the idea of identity being reduced to pixels and pictures being reduced to pixels,” says Caoimhe MacNeice from Athlone explaining her curved shapes with their jagged raw edges. Lily Spain delved into rural US of the 1950s and mass production for her modern workwear looks while Donegal native Anna Gyo’s masculine shapes with feminine fabrics referenced her family’s farming background. Gwen Cunningham from Clontarf likes the notion of telling stories through clothes.
“Fashion design is a different business now,” says Melinn. “It is so broad, from fashion buying to styling, forecasting, merchandising, IT, pattern-cutting. It is the most incredible industry from that point of view and there is a place for everybody, but being a team player is very important. (Left: Jordan Edmonds Moore: organdie, silk chiffon and metal jumpsuit)
“Our Sybil Connolly project at the Hunt was a team project and so is our second year project at Collins Barracks on military uniforms. To succeed in this business, you have to be adaptable, quick-thinking and a good time manager.”
Tickets for the LSAD show ( €30 each or four for €100) can be bought on litmt.ie or lit.ie/lsad/fashionshow or contact Sean Casey (LSAD) on 061-208870.
For tickets for NCAD fashion show from the fashion department at 01-6364200.