When 12 young NCAD fashion, textile and surface design students decided to collaborate during the pandemic, they put together a zine to showcase their work as they moved into their final year. The Offcuts Project was a 108-pager with images of their knitwear, clothing, print scarves and silver jewellery.
It caught the attention of Ruth Ní Loinsigh of Om Diva in Drury Street, who decided to see what she could do to help them. This led to an inaugural alliance with the NCAD Design Bureau, where students focus on the stories they want to tell and the clothes they want to sell. The student work was showcased in her shop, giving them much-needed encouragement at a time when they were mostly working from home.
That took place in May in tandem with another initiative from Om Diva with DCU on a Young Designer Project which gave the winner of the annual DCU Young Designer Competition, Jenny Connolly, a window display in the shop with her winning outfit, as well as the opportunity to create and start her debut collection. At a time when Ireland gives little assistance to young fashion designers, unlike the UK, such supports are to be welcomed.
Having seen the NCAD graduate collections in June, Ni Loinsigh has now followed with another project with eight graduates from the collective. “I encouraged them to create ready-to-wear pieces based on their graduate collection, which we would offer for sale in our Irish Design Atelier,” she says. To mark the occasion, their work was photographed with some of the more established and semi-established Irish designers, “in order to highlight the wealth of talent in Irish design and fashion, and to show the progression and growth from young graduates to established designer,” says Ní Loinsigh.
The eight graduates are Rebecca McCabe, Lucy Folan, Emily Bourke, Laura Murray, Sadhbh Dwyer, Chris Kerley, Stephen O’Connor and Ellie Mortimer. Mortimer has already been shortlisted for the global graduates show run by Arts Thread in collaboration with Gucci. Their work here is photographed by Mark Hill against familiar landmarks in Dublin 2 where Om Diva has been based for nearly 25 years. “I wanted also to highlight local businesses like The Italian Heel Bar, Café en Seine, Kehoes bar as well as some of the places that inspired us such as the National Library of Ireland and its surrounding streets and buildings,” he says.
The collections will be on sale for a month, before setting up Christmas windows. “I am doing this because I love clothes, I love colour and I love people creating things — and it gives such great energy to the shop. Fashion is competitive but what makes this group special is their spontaneity, their collaboration and their friendship,” says Ní Loinsigh.
Photography by Mark Hill, styling by Sean O Shaughnessy, make-up by Julia Hazel, modelled by Rudy Anna Kelly. Creative direction by Ruth Ni Loinsigh. Special thanks to the staff and management of Café en Seine