ALICE Halliday hadn’t even graduated from college when Florence Welch’s stylist came calling.
The singer went on to wear the student’s design on stage in Australia — and she got a mention in Vogue. Then Halliday was named Cork Designer of the Year.
Her new spring/summer collection has, unsurprisingly, been highly anticipated. Halliday has a gift for making old clothes look better than new. Her latest collection includes some new fabrics but she says recycled materials are her mainstay. “I think it is important to reuse what I can as there’s so much waste in the clothing and textile industry.”
Growing up in Bluid, near Skibbereen, Halliday developed a love and respect for nature. Her mother Claire, an artist who taught her to sew, and father Tom, a political cartoonist, taught her to appreciate art at an early age.
Halliday returned home from London soon after completing a BA in Fashion Design from UCA Epsom in 2010. The day before she left, she received a sample request from Florence Welch’s stylist. “Ten friends helped me bead a cape for my graduate collection and they kept saying how great it would look on Florence. I contacted her stylist after my graduate show and sent her photos but I know she gets sent so many things. I was thrilled to hear that Florence liked it.”
Halliday named her spring collection “Tea with Tamara” for Tamara Karsavina, a Russian Imperial Ballet dancer. Halliday became fascinated by Tamara’s costumes after viewing Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes at London’s Victoria and& Albert Museum in 2010. “I sketched some of her costumes for research. The images were sepia and the clothes looked almost tea-stained, so I played about with tea-staining fabrics. I then envisioned an old-fashioned tea-room with chandeliers and rich, inter-war interiors. The collection developed from there.” Halliday is a practiced vintage shopper with a great eye for pieces she can deconstruct for multi-purpose use. She broke down an old chandelier to create a headpiece. Wasting nothing, she used the leftover crystals as embellishments for her dresses. She advises crafty consumers to look beyond the women’s section in charity shops as men’s clothing and household accessories can be equally useful.
Halliday’s designs incorporate items like lace doilies and curtains, handmade at her kitchen table in Castletownshend. Her waist sashes are former curtain ties. The beading is picked from old costume jewellery. A gilded cup and saucer hat and matching necklace give the collection a surreal, Oppenheim-like quality. Though her models are styled like Twenties flappers in the images shown, there are plenty of pieces that are right on-trend. The gold and pastel colour palette, lamé, lace and midriff cut-outs are very 2012.
With her first baby due this month, Halliday has a small but major project on the way. “I am really looking forward to being a mother and fashion will have to take a back seat for a little while. But I won’t loose touch with my creative side and, after the first few months, I will continue my fashion career, while carefully juggling it with motherhood.”
Alice Halliday clothing and accessories are available at Turquoise Flamingo (4 Washington Street, Cork) West Cork Crafts (61 Townsend Street, Skibbereen) and John Smith’s bookshop, UCC.