MEET THE MAKERS | NATALIE COLEMAN

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Natalie Coleman, Creative Director, NATALIEBCOLEMAN. 

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated from the Limerick School of Art & Design with a BA in Fashion & Design in 2006. A year later, I was studying on the MA Fashion in Womenswear at Central Saint Martins under the tutelage of the late Louise Wilson. In addition to owning and running a successful label, I’m also a fashion lecturer at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining moment of my career has to be coming up with the inspiration for the All the Jewellery I Never Got collection as it got picked up by so many great stores and press.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to continue to grow the brand on an international level and to continue to collaborate with people that are challenging norms in music, print, photography.

DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN THE BUSINESS? 

I started up at the same time as a lot of my peers that I studied with in London so we have really supported each other. The Irish Design and Craft Council and the British Fashion Council have also been great in terms of advice.

WHAT WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND AS?

Our collections play on feminine silhouettes with humorous, and sometimes subversive, illustrative prints and motifs. The label’s work pivots between tradition and innovation. The use of indigenous tweeds from family weavers Molloy & Sons in Donegal are frequently used in the collections. We have developed a modern Irishness through the work. This narrative is coupled with opulent fabrics, appliques, whimsical hand beaded and hand painted surface decoration. Our label draws on the natural heritage, traditional techniques and skills inherent in the Irish textile industry and fuses them with modernity and innovation. We present our collections at London and Paris Fashion Weeks and we have just presented Autumn/Winter 2018 collection at London Fashion Week Designer Showrooms. The collections have been featured in magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Self, Grazia, Marie Claire, Elle and Source Magazine. Fans of the label include Laura Whitmore, Angela Scanlon, Marina & The Diamonds, Suki Waterhouse, Lily Collins, Little Mix, Tami Roman, Esperanza Spalding and Mary J Blige.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

It is an eponymous label with the “B” standing for my Mother’s name, Bridie.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I love Edith Beauvoir Beale and her daughter, little Edie. The Maysles brothers made a documentary about their lives in their East Hampton home in the 70’s titled Grey Gardens. It really captures a poetic, beautiful and tragic story of mother-daughter love, dysfunctionality and beauty unraveling. Our collections are inspired by the stories of women, both contemporary and in the past, and these inspirations really embody and inspire our design approach.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

We have been asked to collaborate with ASOS and Anthropology before but the timing was not right. Now would be a great time to work with a high street store.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

We have inherited such a rich legacy through Ireland’s textile history. It’s a really exciting time to say something new, using traditional techniques in an innovative way, and sharing this through the WearingIrish initiative.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I want Beyoncé to wear Irish.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU?

 New York City means vibrancy, energy, connectedness and opportunity to me.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I normally start with a story, a narrative. Each season the collection is almost like a diary page for me. I’m always influenced by what is going on around me culturally, and of course historically. But I bring something of myself in, through my own perspective or experience, that helps me to generate new ideas. I think it is vital to have something fresh or new to say. At the moment, we are developing a lot of our own embroideries for the next season through drawing and humorous texts.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS?

Our label draws on the natural heritage, traditional techniques and skills inherent in the Irish textile industry and fuses them with modernity and innovation. We have collaborated for several seasons with sixth generation Irish weavers Molloy and Sons, creating tweeds that are unique to our label from Donegal wools.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

This season, people have loved the tweed coats and the silk taffeta skirts that are quilted by us in the studio using a light wool padding. I will definitely be living in the linen textured dresses!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without mascara, my phone and my gold lambskin hoodie from a few seasons ago.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

My go-to is a great coat and sunglasses!

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

In 2013, I was asked to be the first Irish design ambassador to Microsoft Ireland. This is an exciting role for me and my label, bridging innovation and technology with fashion. The Surface pro4 device is used in my studio to practice sketch and to photograph visual concepts for the collection while also operating as a social media tool to connect with my followers and clients.