London Fashion Week: Irish designer’s homage to working women

Wexford designer Richard Malone’s vivid, imaginative and flamboyant collection is his most assured yet

The Richard Malone collection at London Fashion Week. Photographs: Chris Yates

The Richard Malone collection at London Fashion Week. Photographs: Chris Yates

 

The young Wexford designer Richard Malone kicked off London Fashion Week on Friday with one of his most assured collections to date dedicated to working class women, resourceful street market stallholders “and to every heroine who knows how to hustle”.

His love of stripes and bold, primary colour – blues, reds, greens was to the fore, as was his sculptural, circular approach to cutting emphasising the female form, this time anchored in checks and Scottish tweeds.

Curvaceous jackets made a strong statement, while handwoven aprons and hug-me-tight shawls elevated the domestic everyday wear of street traders. His continuing commitment to sustainability was underscored by trousers in recycled viscose, bags and floor length tassels handwoven from discarded plastics and fabrics sourced from a collective of female weavers in southern India.

Functionality was key; evening gowns were designed to be machine washable and flared silk trousers had tracksuit inspired seams for comfort. The whole collection was vivid, imaginative and flamboyant.

This has been a big year for the 28-year-old designer whose work was featured in the recent exhibition Is Fashion Modern at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Since then several items from his collection have been acquired by Moma, their first fashion acquisitions since Issey Miyake in 1967, a significant validation of the Irish designer’s growing international reputation.

Model and actress Adwoa Aboah was a front row guest at the show in Somerset House, along with Malone’s family from Wexford; his parents James and Helen Malone, brother John and aunt Mary along with his 85 year old grandmother Nellie Malone, a retired seamstress.

“I never go out without my tape measure and two safety pins in case of an accident,” she confided to The Irish Times.  “I have been sewing for 60 years – used to make bows for ponies’ tails at the Dublin Horse Show at one time – and though I am 20 years retired, I am still sewing and doing alterations. There was always a machine on the kitchen table when Richard came over,” she added with a smile.

Two more Irish designers, Simone Rocha and J W Anderson, will present their autumn/winter 2018 collections on Saturday 

Designer Richard Malone at his London Fashion Week show. Photograph: Chris Yates
Designer Richard Malone at his London Fashion Week show. Photograph: Chris Yates
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