Irish designers to look out for in 2020

In 2019, Irish fashion went from strength to strength. In 2020, it will push even more boundaries.
Irish designers to look out for in 2020

Irish fashion will push even more boundaries in 2020 – and these are the designers that will rock the industry, writes PaulMcLauchlan.

Jonathan Anderson, artistic director at JW Anderson and Loewe, added board member at the V&A Museum in London to his extensive resume. Simone Rocha, the Dublin wunderkind, opened the doors to her third global flagship store in Hong Kong. Richard Malone presented a breakthrough collection at London Fashion Week in September before dipping his toes further in the art world at the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s latest exhibition, Desire. Sharon Wauchob, RIXO’s Orlagh McCloskey, Richard Quinn, Natalie Coleman, and Paul Costelloe, along with the above, continue to prove themselves on a global scale.

2020 will see the 10th anniversary of CREATE at Brown Thomas, an annual showcase in the department store spotlighting a cohort of Irish makers across the disciplines of fashion, accessories, jewellery, millinery, homeware and interiors, and food.

With the Irish fashion scene primed to assert its presence on the world’s stage for another year running, meet the designers preparing to take the industry by storm in 2020.

Róisín Pierce

From: Co Dublin.

Roisin Pierce
Roisin Pierce

Dublin’s Róisín Pierce was the only Irish designer selected to showcase her work at the 34th Festival de Hyères in the South of France in April, in collaboration with Chanel’s Maison Michel, a metier d’art (or workshop) which specialises in millinery. She was awarded the first Metiers d’art Prize at the Festival.

The starting point for Pierce’s collection was the Magdalene Laundries, where Irish women were silently and secretly sent away for having children born out of wedlock.

“The collection started from learning that the women were forced to create needlework, Irish lace, baptism, smocked communion and bridal dresses for the Catholic Church to sell for profit,” said Pierce.

I used white broderie anglaise which is commonly associated with baptism dresses but using white was also important as it touched on the idea of purity and how the women were put to work to amend and clean for their past ‘sins’.

‘‘I really focused in on the handcrafted textiles they were forced to make; the Irish lace and smocking which have been reinvigorated with new contemporary application and uses,” said Pierce.

Winning the prize at Hyères has blossomed into a collaboration that will be launched in 2020’s festival, a continuation from Mná i Bhláth, with the help and unlimited resources three Chanel ateliers, Verneuil, Paloma, and Maison Michel, who specialise in bags, finishings, and millinery, respectively.

Sinead O’Dwyer

From: Tullamore, Co Offaly

Unlike any other womenswear designer to emerge from Ireland, Offaly born Sinead O’Dwyer’s artful approach to fashion is questioning our perception of the female body and its representation in fashion. O’Dwyer features inclusive casting in all her presentations, encompassing a broad range of sizes.

“I would love to see luxury brands making all sizes, not just the smallest ones and across the board all fashion brands, luxury and fast fashion slowing down and producing fewer collections,” said O’Dwyer who is facilitating in the industry by marching to the beat of her own drum.

Her process involves life-casting a model before pouring hot oil-based clay into the alginate and sculpture, and finally, a fiberglass mould is constructed from this. Fibreglass moulds create her silicone casts which for spring/summer 2020, presented at London Fashion Week, came in a range of bright colours.

Entitled Martina, the collection was named after Martina Dolcimascolo, the woman she moulded the pieces on. “I was inspired by her proportions and developed all aspects of the work with this in mind,” said O’Dwyer.

What will 2020 bring?

I am working on a collaboration with choreographer Grace Nicol for a performance at the V&A for the Friday Lates in March, I’m also working towards a new collection which will emerge at some point next year.

Katie Ann McGuigan

From: Newry, Co Down

Katie Ann McGuigan
Katie Ann McGuigan

At London Fashion Week, Co Down’s McGuigan’s presentation was aglow with a panoply of bold colours, taking cues from the roller-disco scene of the early ’70s America. Amongst tartan and other graphic prints, there was neon pink, candy-floss shades, icy blue, and deep teal — synonymous with her punchy femininity.

“Given the current political climate, especially within the UK, I feel that it’s important to offer a light-hearted collection — something that is fun and uplifting. Escapism to distract people from the worries and woes that we are all forced to endure on a daily basis,” she said.

Of course, McGuigan is mindful of the world around her. In an attempt to reduce her carbon footprint, she hand-dyed and screen-printed tie-dye hoodies in her Brixton studio, meanwhile lace-up boots were made in East London.

“Not only do I feel that it’s vital to support other creatives and small businesses, but I also hope that I’m building a community as well as simultaneously decreasing my brand’s carbon footprint,” said McGuigan.

In 2019, she was one of the centrepieces of Brown Thomas’ CREATE showcase with Fashion Director Shelly Corkery praising her international appeal. Straddling the lines between harsh and soft, McGuigan is drawn to leather and organza. Organza dresses, floaty and ultra-feminine, are counterbalanced by leather jackets colour-blocked in candy-floss shades.

Rory Parnell-Mooney

From: Galway, Co Galway

Rory Parnell-Mooney
Rory Parnell-Mooney

Ireland counts few menswear designers but Galway-born Rory Parnell-Mooney was one of the first in the modern age to emerge. While Ireland boasts a range of independent suit-makers, there aren’t many with the forward-thinking, artistic approach of this bright spark.

His spring/summer 2020 collection, presented as a lookbook rather than a formal runway presentation, was influenced by Cruising (the 1980 film starring Al Pacino), John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

I find the performance of masculinity interesting, the idea that ‘maleness’ is something that can be put on and taken off. In Cruising, Al Pacino is straight but undercover as a gay man in New York to catch a serial killer targeting gay men. So it’s this weird performance of a straight man pretending to be gay but also preforming this ‘straight-acting’ gay stereotype.

The style culture Parnell-Mooney refers to characterised by an appearance-aware perfection, manifesting itself in sharp lines (blue denim and black faux leather with 90s-inspired branding; cotton jerseys with drawstring details) and a slick polish.

“I’m thinking about something small in terms of a show in June for S/S21. Honestly, it feels really nice to think about the future now,” said Parnell-Mooney, who spent years off the official schedule. “I think when I thought about future seasons when I was doing shows I looked forward with a bit of dread thinking of all of the work, I’m looking forward now thinking about all of these new ideas I can explore in my own time, no pressure, just exploring.”

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