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MEET THE MAKERS | KIERNAN MULHERN

MEET THE MAKERS | KIERNAN MULHERN

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Kiernan Mulhern of Triona. 

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My name is Kieran Mulhern and I’m the Brand Director for my family-run brand Triona, based in Ardara, the home of Donegal Tweed. Triona was formed in 1984 by my parents, Denis and Ann Mulhern.  

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?  

The most defining moment was during my teenage years, realizing the appreciation of our customers, especially those from overseas, for the quality of our fabrics and products.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Our ambition is to bring Triona to the US and beyond, to show the quality and exclusive clothing we produce.

DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN THE BUSINESS? 

My parents, naturally.

WHAT SETS YOUR DESIGNS APART?

Our fabrics set us apart and are exclusive to us. Also, having five generations in making tweed is something to be proud of.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Triona is a take from my sister’s name, Catriona.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Our dream muse is Anne Hathaway. She’s the epitome of elegance and already owns a Triona coat.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

Our dream collaboration would be with a designer or retailer to produce an exclusive collection. It would have to be with someone completely different to what we do to make it interesting. Perhaps a milliner!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish offers us the opportunity to reach past our comfort zone and take our clothing to the US and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

We want those that appreciate quality made goods with a rich heritage background to wear Irish.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU?  

New York is the epicenter of the world and provides a wonderful platform to help promote our brand. No city in the world has the same energy as New York and I find it very inspirational.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Donegal tweed fabric is our main focus that we work from. Our tweeds are exclusive and colors are inspired by the colors of the Irish landscape.

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

I think us Irish must be the proudest nation in the world!  It’s wonderful to visit the US and see how well received we are here.  It truly feels special and, with that, very inspiring to bring our product here.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

All of our tweeds and designs are done from Donegal. Everything happens from here in the quiet and idyllic environment that gives us a great base to think and create!

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our oversized belted wool coat.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

The three F’s – fabric, family and friends.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Personally, I’m very simple when it comes to style but I do carry a woolen scarf with me that is sure to top off any look.

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

On behalf of myself and my family, we would like to thank Margaret Molloy and the #wearingirish team for giving us this great opportunity.  We appreciate the incredible work you have done to make this happen.

 

MEET THE MAKERS | THE TWEED PROJECT

MEET THE MAKERS | THE TWEED PROJECT

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Aoibheann MacNamara and Triona Lillis of The Tweed Project. 

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

There are two of us at The Tweed Project. Aoibheann MacNamara’s background is in arts administration but is also a specialist at Ard Bia, an enduring restaurant in Galway. She’s into slow food and now into slow fashion. Triona Lillis is a costume designer in the Irish TV and film industries. 

 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Our ambition is to move gently in business so that the pieces exist for a lifetime. We work in an interesting and humour-filled way in the west of Ireland.

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

We work with our indigenous Irish fabrics and with an embrace and respect for a global world. We take influence from travel and subtly nod to trends. We work slowly and the product exists gently within the heritage world of fashion.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Our brand name is made, produced and inspired by the west of Ireland. It exists only because of the geographical location.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

The landscape of the west of Ireland remains always, and totally, our overly-communicative muse.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

Our dream collaboration is with each other, when we would be free of other personal and work-related commitments.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is challenging transparency in production and authenticity and that is crucial for our industry’s future and global reach.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

We want the youth to wear Irish so they care about what they wear and care about their fashion heritage and shout about it.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU. 

New York City has always meant uber cool fun. It’s a place where anything can happen. 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

We created a capsule starter collection and we add to it slowly year on year. We do what we want, when it feels right, and generally feel out the same direction, whether it be adding tassels or producing tartan.

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

The brand only exists for us because we are Irish and we want to modernize and subvert the tradition of Irish-ness. It is our total inspiration.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item in our collection would have to be our tweed kaftan done in collaboration with Starstyling Berlin and printed with glow-in-the-dark designs.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

We couldn’t live without our children, the sea, and good relationships.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

An amazing coat can always cover sins!

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

We’re a little crazy!

 

MEET THE MAKERS | SARA HALL

MEET THE MAKERS | SARA HALL

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Sara Hall, Creative Director, Sands & Hall 

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My background is in public relations and advertising, working in both Ireland and Canada. After the birth of my first daughter, I had some time to take stock and think about what I really wanted to do. I was inspired to begin working with materials that I loved and to create pieces that I had ideas for – the difficult part was getting it off the ground from there but I haven’t looked back.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER? 

That’s a hard one to answer. There are many defining moments, but I think having the full AW1718 feature on Vogue UK was the ‘what on earth’ moment for me.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I would love to expand our collections and for Sands & Hall to become much more well-known. I’d like to have my pieces adorn women across the globe, showcasing the best of Irish design and heritage products, and demonstrating that slow fashion can make timeless fashion statements.

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN THE BUSINESS? 

Unfortunately, I have not had the benefit of working closely with a mentor in a specific fashion house or education establishment, but I’ve been heavily influenced by the work of fashion houses such as Celine. I very much had to learn on the job – taking my initial ideas and finding the right people to guide and support me. In doing so, I was very fortunate to come across you and WearingIrish (through social media) and that was a defining moment. I look to you as someone I can go to for guidance and as an authority in the industry.
HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

For me the clothing that you wear serves many purposes – some practical and some emotional. In particular, an outerwear piece needs to be both protective and make a statement. Over recent years, I have felt uneasy about the fast fashion culture and subconsciously longed for a slower, more honest and creative approach to the clothing that we wear, reminiscent of times gone by. It was this desire that encouraged me to create pieces for the modern-day woman that would be timeless yet contemporary, fashion forward yet taking inspiration from the past. I wanted to enable strong women everywhere to be able to make a fashion statement in a chic and comfortable way.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Sands is my maiden name and Hall is my married name (my husband’s surname). I felt it important to take ownership of the brand and give it true grounding and heritage.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Kate Moss is my dream muse. I’ve enjoyed watching her through endless campaigns and many transformations, yet she always keeps an air of mystery and is true to herself. Her natural, honest beauty is a tonic – she is a strong, inspiring woman without being overt or fake.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

My dream collaboration would be with the store Liberty, London. The history itself of the store and how it was founded 143 years ago by one individual with a 2,000 pound loan astounds me. The fashion in Liberty is so different when compared to any other store. Walking through it is a full-on experience and the buyers know what they are doing in each and every section. Any trip to London for me always includes a visit to Liberty. To see Sands & Hall in there some day would be a dream come true. 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I’m inspired by everything WearingIrish stands for—bringing Irish fashion design to the rest of the world and showing how much talent is in the beautiful Island of Ireland. I’m also thrilled to be able to use materials sourced in Ireland with a huge amount of heritage in my designs so WearingIrish is the perfect showcase for our brand. I think it is an incredible thing to do for Irish fashion and I am so proud and excited to be a part of it.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU. 

It’s huge. A dream come true – to dream of working in fashion and bring your ideas to life is one thing but to bring my designs to New York City is the ultimate goal.  After all, it’s the center of the fashion industry.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I’m not sure that the creative process ever really has a beginning, as I always have so many ideas and trends that I am following. So the beginning is really deciding which idea to focus on first and which elements are really essential to making the style special and uniquely Sands & Hall.

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

I have always been proud of my heritage and my Irish background as I grew up in a huge musical family, surrounded by beautiful, natural landscapes in Co Down, North of Ireland. I have always visited Donegal and it is the natural landscape there, and the wool of the animals that graze there, that go into our Donegal Tweed. I am so proud to be able to take this traditional ingredient and present it for today’s fashion conscious.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

The honesty and culture of Ireland is part of my nature and inspires me to create pieces that stand out and stand proud – spreading the word as we Irish do. I think it is important to remember history and this is part of the creative process for me – taking inspiration from the classics of the past and turning them into timeless pieces of the future.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our fitted cape is the dream cape in our collection – it really makes a statement and is the most desired piece for special events and horse-racing. Personally though, I cannot be parted from the new Relaxed Coat which features in our AW1819 collection, especially in Sedwick Dove Donegal Tweed.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without my loved ones, coats and water!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

I like to pair a vintage find with an expensive piece as they bounce off each other so well – elevating each other in different ways. 

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

I’m actually quite a shy person and I get nervous when public speaking, even though my current and past jobs would suggest differently. I feel a lot more comfortable when I am talking about the things I’m passionate about, like my business.

 

MEET THE MAKERS | NATALIE COLEMAN

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.

MEET THE MAKERS | ANNE BEHAN

MEET THE MAKERS | ANNE BEHAN

 

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

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated from the distinguished Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) with a degree in fashion design. My specialty was knitwear, winning the Student Knitwear Designer Award, and I went on to study for a postgraduate qualification in Knitwear and Computer Aided Design, also at LSAD. After graduation I worked at various fashion and knitwear companies, including Carraig Donn and Ireland’s Eye Knitwear.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I would like my brand to sell worldwide and be synonymous with beauty, quality and heritage.

WHAT IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

The Aine label is firmly rooted in the rich heritage of Ireland’s knitwear traditions. The brand brings these traditions into modern life using contemporary designs and incorporating color and texture into fabrics that create simple, easy to wear shapes. The label uses only the finest natural luxury yarns, such as cashmere blends, silk mixes and the softest lambswool sourced in Ireland, Scotland and Italy.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Aine is the Celtic language translation for Anne.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Alexander McQueen is my dream muse. I loved his mastery of taking an old style or pattern and updating it in a new, unrelated fabric to create something even more beautiful (like the AW 2006-7 dress made from pheasant feather or the 2001 SS mussel shell vest). I also love the way he recut fabrics, like tartan, to make them look new and different.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

My dream collaboration would be with Vivienne Westwood.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is a celebration of the best Irish creations and their designers.

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I want anybody who likes the garments or jewelry, for either their design aesthetic or the story behind the brand, to wear Irish. 

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I start all my collections with a weekend away along the Wild Atlantic Way to shoot the colors and textures of the countryside. Then I go to a yarn fair in Florence to research new ideas in fiber technology, machinery, color and trends for the following season.  I decide on a theme and then swatch the yarns and colors together until I am happy with the look and feel of the knitted fabrics. The fall and flow of the textiles usually dictate the final shape and style of the garment.

 

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

I am proud of being Irish and of Ireland as a country. We are a people who are rooted in tradition and who consistently lead the way in achieving excellence. For a small country, our influence on the world stage is extraordinary. The history, the people, the culture and traditions, the landscape, the music and folklore all influence my designs.

 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item in my collection is a simple floral collar, knitted in the softest lambswool. It is decorative yet functional, keeping you warm without adding bulk to your silhouette.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without color, texture and tradition.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Black with a pop of color.

 

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

I’m committed to supporting my local community by manufacturing and sourcing raw materials within my locality.  This helps to keep people in the rural communities and avoids the shift to urban areas.

 

MEET THE MAKERS | GEMMA O LEARY

MEET THE MAKERS | GEMMA O LEARY

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Gemma O Leary, Creative Director, Inner Island. 

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I started my journey through various short courses and internships in Canada, Scotland and Dublin. Having little formal education, I learned my trade on the job and through experimentation.

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Releasing my first collection was the most defining moment of my career. It can be frightening to put your heart into something and then show it to the world. Overcoming the fear was the first step on this adventure. Without taking that step, everything that followed would not have happened.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to bring the INNER ISLAND brand to a wider audience and have a presence in suitable high-end stores in every country in the world. In addition, I’d like to increase sales by 50% each year for the next three years. I still want to retain an exclusive but affordable cult-brand vibe as I continue to grow.

 

WHAT SETS YOUR BRAND APART?

We think design integrity and quality are essential but that you shouldn’t have to pay the world to get it. To achieve this, we work on a separate design story for each collection and I personally make all the pieces using the ancient art of metalworking combined with modern technologies. The ethos of the brand is to bring a refined, subtle approach to design starting with simple shapes and introducing unexpected details. The intention is to create pieces that will surprise and delight with a modern contemporary aesthetic.

 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

The name INNER ISLAND comes from a song by a Swedish artist called El Pedro Del Mar. For me, it denotes that each of us has a sense of self that can be influenced by those around us, but we should not abandon our personal identity.


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse is Tilda Swinton. She is from a very rare group of women who do in fact represent everything a muse should be— influential, emotional and transformative.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

My dream collaboration would be with Issey Miyake.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Irish design has moved on from Claddagh rings and Aran sweaters. WearingIrish highlights the wealth of talent we have on this island.

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone!

 

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU.

New York City is an exciting melting pot of culture. If you stand in Times Square long enough, you’ll see the entire world walk by.

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Inspiration can strike at any moment from anywhere. I have collections inspired by a seventh century stained glass window, the curve of a wooden boat and even an ancient board game. For me, a point of reference is important to help create something truly unique.

 

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

Being Irish has influenced every fiber of who I am and therefore what I create. We have an unrivaled and evolving culture. I take great inspiration and pride from our past and also feel a responsibility to continue the high standard of craftsmanship for which Ireland is renowned.

 

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

As I live in a remote area of Ireland, it has a huge influence on my creative process. I look out my studio window at a huge expanse of countryside that calms my mind and allows the creativity to flow. Being remote also forces me to look inward in my creative process as I’m not bombarded with the stimuli that you would get in the city.

 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item in my collection would be the Large Ammil earrings. They are an oxymoron; a minimal statement earring.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without my sketch pad, coffee and phone.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

 Know when to stop. If you’re drawing attention to your face and neckline with layered necklaces, or a statement piece, perhaps you don’t need an armful of bangles to compete for attention.

 

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

Rain is one of my favorite sounds.

 

MEET THE MAKERS | GARVAN DE BRUIR

MEET THE MAKERS | GARVAN DE BRUIR

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Garvan De Bruir, Creative Director and Craftsman, DE BRUIR. 

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My formal training was as a furniture designer and craftsman in the UK. My graduate work won a ‘Future of Design Award’ in London and was exhibited in Dubai as the reward. I specialized in timber and cast metal but I loved incorporating leather for any upholstery. The early years of my practice were in the UK before relocating back home to Kildare and self-building the timber structures that form the DE BRUIR workshops. There, alongside making furniture, I also began experimenting with making leather bags.

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Simply getting online was the most defining moment. In the early days of Etsy.com, I listed a few bags and was amazed at the confidence of a buyer in the USA, Australia, or Japan in making such a significant purchase based purely on some images, identifying the integrity of my leather and the honesty of my construction methods. I thought this bag-making venture must be worth pursuing.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

The ambition is that people aspire to owning a DE BRUIR bag, mostly because they think they look handsome! But, of course, the appearance of the bag has to be backed up with an earned reputation for uncompromising quality and longevity. Each bag sold and in use should become a walking advertisement for the brand.

 

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN BUSINESS?

Any mentoring that I’ve received thus far has been in creative or technical capacities. As the collection is nearing completion, I’d definitely welcome a mentor in helping to make the brand and business more commercial.

 

WHAT SETS YOUR DESIGNS APART?

In the DE BRUIR collection, the caliber of both the leather and the craftsmanship is paramount. My workshop is located in Kildare, the equestrian heartland of Ireland. In horse racing, leather is considered as a structural and industrial material.  Saddles and bridles are made to function and endure in hard-working environments. From the tanning specification of the leather, to the robustness of the stitching or the solid brass fixings, every detail must play its part for each item to succeed. Also, as I am essentially self-taught in bag making, approaching the process from a structural background has defined the unique aesthetic of the bags.

 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

DE BRUIR is my surname. It’s quite a unique name so happily the .com version was available when launching the brand.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE, AND WHY?

It is probably towards characters in the style of Indiana Jones. There is a ruggedness to the bags that enjoy being challenged on all manner of adventures. And afterwards to just be dusted off and polished back to life with just a few fading scars to tell the tale.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I’d love to be investigating the potential for leather in tensile architecture or large installations. So any architect that will listen would do! Leather has largely been forgotten as the industrial material that featured throughout history. Its particular strengths and versatility made it a core material of many civilizations. As a natural and ecologically sustainable material, we should be seeking out more uses for it beyond just luxury items.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish acknowledges that there is a community of designers in Ireland that are each working to a level of excellence in their field.  And, as importantly, there is a community of design patrons seeking our rich output around the world. As designer-makers, if we continue pursuing our creative ambitions, there is an audience to whom we can market our work.

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Any and all international design enthusiasts are the target for WearingIrish. We know we compete at the highest level in quality and sustainability and it falls on our design skills to appeal consistently on an international stage.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU. 

It’s an international style capital and the place where I’d envision my brand being appreciated. It comes with a particularly well-informed consumer, who places an emphasis on the source of a product and the authenticity behind the making of it.

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I prototype a lot. It is mostly investigating methods of construction, solving details and letting those solutions define the design. I use the various bags, accessories, or jacket prototypes myself to best inform and improve their functionality. I’m pretty reckless in how I treat the prototypes to ensure they are able to endure a long working life.

 

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

I think Irish designers have an affinity for the very core natural materials (wool, leather, wood, stone, ceramic, glass, metal…). We have an awareness of their properties when in their rawest stage and the ability to be inventive with their natural beauty. Perhaps this affinity is based on our closeness to the land and animals. There is little satisfaction for me in working with processed materials instead, designing and making from first principles brings the real reward.

 

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

The specification of leather I use is typical of my local equestrian industry – leather is celebrated for its longevity in tough working environments. It is just a happy coincidence that it is also one of the most handsome and luxurious materials in the natural world!

 

WHAT’S THE MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Sports Bag is probably the most coveted design as it has the broadest appeal. It achieves a unisex design. While keeping the same features and proportions, simply tailoring the size and the texture of the leather will give it a more masculine or feminine feel.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

While I have a nice enough car, I really love my beaten-up van.  It allows me to do the most diverse projects. I’m self-building a house and, as always, my van is a complete workhorse.

Next comes the prototype of the wax-cotton gilet design. I’ve been wearing it doing everything from building stone walls to chain-sawing down trees. I’m testing it to destruction and it simply won’t give in!

I do need my workshop too. It’s an environment I’ve built around me – some spaces within it are suited for streamlined production but some purely for experimental work. It keeps me excited about the making process.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

I keep a long cut of leather as a scarf – it is the outside of the cow-hide so has one undulating edge and one straight-cut edge. It’s classic color and texture combines with any outfit. Arranged tidily with the polished face out, it can achieve a formal look very effectively. Or bringing the open-grain face outwards and worn loosely, it can be windswept and adventurous. No matter how it is worn though, it always smells great!

 

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD DO THAT WE DIDN’T ASK.

My favorite sewing machine has to be a Pearson No.6! At well over 100 years old, and propelled by hand with a fly wheel, it achieves the most fantastic stitch (through up to 15mm thicknesses of leather). At the last count, I had 15 different industrial sewing machines in the workshop, all appropriate to different tasks, but nothing to rival the 19th century Pearson for timeless quality. It’s fitting for such a legendary material!    

 

MEET THE MAKERS | BLAITHIN ENNIS

MEET THE MAKERS | BLAITHIN ENNIS

 

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

 

 

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I spent four years studying at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin, specializing in embroidered textiles. I interned with Diane Von Furstenberg in New York during my third year of college. After graduating, I worked for three years in retail before starting my own business. I’ve participated in the CREATE initiative at Brown Thomas, a luxury department store in Ireland, for three years and have won a number of jewelry and entrepreneurial awards.

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining moment of my career was when I had the opportunity to intern at Diane Von Furstenberg. This helped me gain a huge amount of insight into the overall design process and how it merges with business.

 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to continue designing bespoke handmade pieces and build on my reputation as an innovative jewelry and accessory designer. At the same time, I’d like to pursue a possible collaboration with a worldwide brand as the in-store jewelry and accessory designer. One of my longtime ambitions is to design costume pieces for movies.

 

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN BUSINESS?

A lot of my design work is self-taught, but I’ve had inspiring mentors over the years from as early back as my art teacher Paul McCloskey in secondary school. Nigel Cheney from NCAD, Joan Spencer, local businesswoman from Wexford and various members of the Local Enterprise Office have also been mentors to me.

 

WHAT SETS YOUR DESIGNS APART?

I believe what sets my brand apart is the unique and innovative process of material manipulation I use to create beautiful jewelry and accessories.  Each piece is handmade at my studio in Ireland.

 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

My brand name is my own name! I’m proud to be Irish and translated it means ‘Little Flower’. Blaithin is pronounced (Blaw- heen).

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE, AND WHY?

Angelina Jolie is my dream muse. I’ve always loved her versatility, sometimes daring and thought-provoking style. She also achieves understated cool and elegance which I really admire.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Collaborating with a high street brand like COS/Victoria Secret Runway or the ultimate dream… CHANEL!

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The Irish have such an affiliation with American history and society. I think it’s wonderful that the WearingIrish movement represents the culture of Ireland in such an engaging and authentic way. 

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

People with Irish heritage playing significant roles in American society who will have an innate interest in spreading the word.

 

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU. 

To me, New York City is an intense bubble of amazing history, culture and creativity. It’s a city that makes so many Americans proud of who they are and what their country represents to the world.

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

My creative process varies. I tend to focus on sampling and experimentation when designing new collections. My ready-to-wear pieces always stem from the larger couture work.

 

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

Ireland is a beautiful country with deep rooted heritage and culture and a profound affinity to the arts. With the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement approaching, it’s a reminder of how fortunate we are to now be living with peace.  

 

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Sisal, Aramid, Karelian, Topaz are some of the names used in my collections. These are knotting and sailing terms that have influenced my craft over time. My dad and younger sisters are avid dingy sailors in Ireland and I have always been fascinated by the materials and techniques they use.  Living in coastal Ireland has had a profound impact on my creative process and inspiration.

 

WHAT’S THE MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My DVF Stephanie knit bag, a most memorable piece from my internship.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without a cup of daily coffee (usually 11am), my iPad and the amazing local artisan cheese from Co. Carlow!

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

My go-to styling trick is my use of accessories to compliment my individual style. I have collections of wonderful handmade Italian hats, wool and leather gloves and belts that I have collected over the years.

 

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD DO THAT WE DIDN’T ASK.

I am a huge Disney fan! I have always loved performance, dance, and music all things Disney encompasses so well. One of my collections was inspired by Walt Disney’s 1920’s Fantasia and it’s “Pastoral Symphony.” The Centaurette scene from the movie inspired my large-scale blush pieces.  The femininity, but also the underlying strength of the characters, is what I love the most.

 

MEET THE MAKERS | ALISON CONNEELY

MEET THE MAKERS | ALISON CONNEELY

 

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

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born on the Ardbear Peninsula, in Ireland’s iconic western landscape terrain, Connemara, which is also home to the creative imagination of director John Ford and playwright Martin McDonagh’s famed ‘Beauty Queen of Leenane’. These dramatic moorlands have grounded, inspired and informed my narrative as a contemporary Irish designer.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Being chosen as Irish design representative by the National Museum of Ireland for the 1916 centenary commemorations.

 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to create a modern design mythology rooted in the lost traditions of the past, create cutting-edge garments for future generations to wear (embedded with subtle historic symbolism – a world view into intricate island folk-ways) and weaving fine-line garments for 21st century heroines.

 

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? 

My mentor is my extraordinary friend and collaborator, the designer and artist, Roisin Gartland.

 

WHAT IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

The heart and soul of my brand can be found in the fine lines, metamorphic contours and mellow tones with shades of iridescent. Our practice is rooted in the rich textile tradition of Ireland’s dramatic Atlantic coast, and our design philosophy is imagined through a delicate modernist lens.  Many of the fabrics are hand dyed locally on the Ardbear Peninsula, from rock moss, gorse, and seasonal heather blooms. In addition, a selection of our headpieces are woven from organic wool on our family farm. The flora and fauna of Connemara’s botanical wonderland inspires the template of our unique artisan tailoring methods.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse would be Eileen Grey, a pioneering Irish artist, architect and designer. She was a modernist whose soul was in her everlasting vision and genre-defying ethos.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I believe that our skill set as makers, our ancestral Irish roots, our organic textile focus and contemporary vision would merge successfully with the conscientious lifestyle philosophy and trusted curatorial platform that is Goop. Just imagine our handcrafted Irish tweed coat on Goop’s living platform. Spun and dyed in the wild Atlantic coastline, it is crafted with a modern lens, worn by the mindful woman.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is both inspired and alluring. It’s the untold tale, living folklore stitched and woven, worn and shared. 

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Evening strollers, night time revelers, autumn brides and shy subway commuters, nostalgic city dwellers, Springtime femininities, and those inclined to wander in a living old day dream are among those I wish to wear Irish.

 

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU.

To me, New York City is a prism for creative pilgrims, a hive for the immigrant dream.

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I think all creative people have influences greater than they imagine. From the epic saga of Queen Meadhbh of Connaught to the rhythmic beat of the loom weaving my tweed in the valley of Ardara, Donegal. A walk through the mauve heather and bog-cotton bogs in June to the captivating Pina Bausch in Cafe Muller. From the reveries of Plath, to the off-beat dance scene in Yorgos Lanthimo’s film, Dogtooth. Watching Olwen Fouere enchant in James Joyce’s River Run.

 

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

The landscape of my playground growing up was a dramatic yet isolating canvas. Vast wind-swept moorland, meandering harsh Atlantic shoreline, isolated hawthorn trees, narrow winding roadways drifting into famine speckled mountains. I always tried to imagine characters walking through this wilderness, whether away from, lost in or coming back to it. I understand now that the characters of my imagination, as an island dwelling youth, were informed by a storytelling generation, pining for an era where people once populated the landscape as famine hungry peasants, spailpins, banshees, and other wandering souls. I wondered if there could ever be new archetypes imagined. What it is to be an Irish woman in the present, threading through a mythological past, stitching a more reflexive future. I hunted beyond the terrain of my locale, darting through history and time in Ireland, 3000 years prior to Queen Meadhbh of Connaught, to turn of the century Celtic Revival ambassadors- Maude Gonne, Lady Gregory, and Lilly & Lolly Yeats, W.B.’s overshadowed sisters. The old, the new, the brave and understated, I make for the heroines of today.

 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My silk kidskin cape, sculpted on an ancient fur machine.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without my ‘Bella’s Faul’ tweed coat, a cycle through the valley of Leenane, Connemara towards sunset, or my thimble, my thread, my love.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Pare it back.

 

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

In my secret life, I am the eternal nine-year-old tomboy, parallel parking my go kart with denim shorts and scuffed knees singing ‘Just Like a Prayer, I’ll take ya there’.

 

MEET THE MAKERS | JENNIFER ROTHWELL

MEET THE MAKERS | JENNIFER ROTHWELL

 

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

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in New York but raised in Dublin. After graduating from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, I went back to New York to gain invaluable industry experience and worked for many high-profile companies such as Norma Kamali and Calvin Klein. In 2006, I returned to Ireland and launched my label, Jennifer Rothwell.

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

When the National Museum of Ireland purchased three of my prints for their Contemporary Collections in 2016.

 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR JENNIFER ROTHWELL?

My ambition is to take my brand global and reignite the Celtic revival while also introducing a new generation to Ireland’s rich culture and heritage through my contemporary designs. My hope is that helps to create employment in the Irish design sector and also reignites fashion manufacturing in Ireland.

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN BUSINESS?

I am a mentor for the Design and Craft Council of Ireland and enjoy sharing my knowledge with new businesses and up-and-coming designers. However, I also seek out mentoring myself when needed, specifically in areas such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO’s), social media and market strategies.

 

WHAT SETS YOUR DESIGNS APART?

I create beautiful wearable digital printed works of art that are striking, colorful and meant to uplift one’s spirit. I am inspired by Irish heritage and culture and introduce these elements into my contemporary designs. I am very passionate about my Irish heritage and passionate about manufacturing in Ireland.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE, AND WHY?

My dream muse is Florence Welch.  I love her music and style and would absolutely love her to wear Jennifer Rothwell, specifically the Madeline print, inspired by fellow artist and muse, Harry Clarke.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I love that the WearingIrish movement is highlighting the great talent we have in Ireland while also showcasing Irish design on the global stage!

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone!  In particular, I’d like my fellow designers, artists and the wider global community to wear Irish.

 

WHAT DOES NEW YORK MEAN TO YOU?

New York City has a very special place in my heart.  It’s the city of my birth and the place I took my first breath of life!

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I am inspired by my Irish heritage, it’s culture and folklore, nature and different places and cultures around the world. I generally start my design process with a concept or idea and then work on the process of designing the print.  After the print has been designed, I drape the fabric on my tailoring mannequin’s different shapes and silhouettes. I design on the form.

 

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

The fact that I was born in America, raised in Ireland, and then returned back to live in the USA for awhile gives me a greater appreciation of my Irish heritage and culture. That is why I am so passionate about reigniting the Celtic revival and introducing a new generation to amazing Irish artists such as Harry Clarke as well as the intricate illustrations of the Book of Kells.

 

WHAT’S THE MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It’s actually my very first print, and now my signature, the “hummingbird print” for dresses, accessories and the coveted pocket squared for men.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

First and foremost it’s my family, being creative, and my retreat in Wexford, Ireland.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

For women, throw on a colorful and striking Jennifer Rothwell scarf to brighten up any outfit and uplift your spirits.  For men, pop on a colorful bow tie or pocket square, to look instantly stylish and stand out in the crowd.

 

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD DO THAT WE DIDN’T ASK.

Jennifer Rothwell is currently the first and only designer that digitally prints and manufactures in Ireland, a fact that makes me extremely proud.  I have been manufacturing my designs in Ireland since 2010 and I’m extremely passionate about bringing manufacturing back to Ireland once again and to create employment in the wider Irish design community, thus keeping families together and the design talent in Ireland.