Carolyn Moore meets five designers making their mark on the Irish fashion landscape – and asks what advice they’d give to the class of 2016.
It’s easy to spot the influence of Edel Traynor’s architecture background in her carefully structured designs.
After graduating from Grafton Academy in 2013, Edel became design assistant to London Fashion Week regular Danielle Romeril, before launching her own label through fashion innovator Ruth Ni Loinsigh’s Atelier 27 incubation space.
With autumn/winter ’16 in production, Edel is researching spring/summer ’17, and hopes to introduce some outside influences by collaborating with an artist while allowing the common thread of looking at “how we can make our clothes survive” continue to inform her work.
“Make a plan of what you want to achieve,” she encourages this year’s graduates.
“If you have the energy and focus, you will get there; you just have to put the work in.”
Jill de Búrca
If anything is evident from Jill de Búrca’s designs, it’s her passion for textiles and creative embellishment.
Having studied Fibre Art in Ballyfermot, she graduated from NCAD in 2006 and quickly established herself as an in-demand freelance embellishment designer, using a specialised Irish Singer machine to produce embroidery for high profile clients including Erdem, Stella McCartney, and Mary Katrantzou.
Her winning combining of fashion-forward aesthetic and traditional embellishment techniques has been available to fashion fans via her own Jill de Búrca label since 2014, and expansion is on the cards.
“Internships are invaluable to learning about the industry and narrowing down what interests you,” Jill advises the class of 2016. “If you feel like you are not learning, move on.”
Having graduated from Grafton Academy just eight years ago, Emma Manley has become a brand-building force to be reckoned with.
Internships with sports-luxe brand VLC and the legendary Alexander McQueen laid the foundations for her quietly luxurious contemporary womenswear label, Manley.
Now stocked in Arnotts, Manley’s cult following here has turbo-charged her online business and led to the development of Manley accessories.
Emma’s sights this year are set on expanding into the Japanese market and “pushing the boundaries of what we can do with leather jewellery”.
“Passion, patience and persistence are a must for the world of fashion design,” she advises new graduates. “It really is a labour of love, you need to be head over heels about it to make it work.”
The year she graduated from LSAD, Rebecca Marsden found herself in the enviable position of having her graduate collection showcased in Brown Thomas’ Create 2012, and the talented Sligo native — who now runs her label and lectures part-time in textiles and fashion design at St Angela’s college, Sligo — has been invited to take part in the initiative every year since.
Currently securing a stockiest in Dublin for her autumn/winter ’16 collection, Rebecca is also developing a knitwear project while working with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland.
Her pragmatic advice to aspiring young designers is “to get involved in competitions and events to build your label’s profile, and keep up to date with business development workshops offered through your local enterprise office”.
2014 NCAD graduate Andrew Bell already has some impressive internships under his belt.
While still a student, he honed his skills with J.W.Anderson in London, and post- graduation he was snapped up by Dunnes Stores, lending his commercial eye and conceptual edge to Carolyn Donnelly’s cool, classic The Edit.
Having staged his spring/summer ’16 collection, “Pulling Strings”, as a collaborative fashion and multimedia installation earlier this year, Andrew moves to Paris this month to pursue his dream of working at the forefront of fashion.
“Keep going and don’t stop designing,” he tells this year’s grads.
“Get as much experience as you can; record it all for your portfolio; and don’t chase money — do what you’re good at and the money will follow you.”
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