An Unbeatable Triage…
As my nearest and dearest will know, some of my favourite things in the world to scribble about are Irish designers, “girl bosses” (don’t worry, I felt a little nauseous too) and sustainability. So, here’s my roundup of those fusing all of the above.
There’s no better place to start things off, than with Aisling Duffy. This one-woman-band crafts each of her one-of-a-kind pieces by hand in-studio, before releasing them in limited drops or on a made-to-order basis. Since graduating from NCAD, she has become recognised for her eclectic use of vintage and dead stock fabrics, resulting in striking and notably quirky designs.
Because two is always better than one, we’ll chat about Aisling Kavanagh next. The young creator cites her family, who valued good quality clothing that was made to last, as her origin story. Often designing her ethereal, party-ready hand made pieces with the inclusion of her own heirlooms, sometimes literally integrated or often as inspiration, she continues to uphold this philosophy in each collection.
Of course I couldn’t write this piece without mentioning aoife ® by Aoife Rooney, a long standing favourite of mine. Taking into account the ever-growing plethora of prestigious awards the label holds under its belt, we needn’t say much more. However, it’s actually the inspirations behind this brand that bring a smile to my face every time; the designer focuses on neutral palettes, drawn from none other than the landscape of our beautiful little island. With this knowledge, whether it’s the London-Irish homesickness in me or not, glancing at her bags on the pages of British Vogue is bound to ignite a sense of pride within. No?
For the sake of keeping up this unintended pattern, let’s go with Aoife Ireland, by Aoife McNamara next. Based on its brand philosophy alone, one that encompasses the natural world, quality over quantity, beauty and creativity, what’s not to love? Luckily, the pieces themselves don’t fall short of magical, either. As fun as they are elegant, they’re defined by lustrous fabrics, oversized bows and voluminous sleeves; the label’s collections are the stuff of fairytales from inception to creation.
Next, Rachel Maguire’s Rashhiiid. Let me just say this; one of the Grafton Academy’s graduate’s iconic faux-fur hats recently featured in no less than a DAZED editorial. I mean, the bar doesn’t get much higher. Designing with the Philosophy of “one man’s trash is another’s treasure” at heart, the designer went from using old duvets, vintage clothing and discarded blankets to sourcing only the highest quality, supreme fabrics for her pieces. Keeping the Japanese way of life entitled “Wabi-Sabi” in mid, the label urges you to cherish and admire the ageing process of its pieces, and to treasure them instead of to replace or discard.
One that’s been on my wish list for quite some time, Luisa Murray’s Lulabelle The Label. Upon discovering roll after roll of fabrics, left to gather dust by her interior designer mother (something to which I relate a little too well) the designer found herself starting a forestry brand in the middle of a pandemic. Her designs are each built made-to-measure from a pattern she spent a month mastering, and the fabrics are unrivalled in whimsy. A yellow one with illustrated rabbits dotted all-over springs to mind; as suited to Keira Knightly in Pride & Prejudice, as it would be Matilda Djerf in Copenhagen.
Finishing up with yet another long-time want of mine, Sophie Hanlon’s incredibly striking and shapely range of knits. Another COVID-19 emergence, the designer began dreaming up silhouettes entitled Chunky Baby, Mini Baby, Squishy Baby and Hairy Baby, hand-weaving them in vibrant yarn and selling them on a made-to-order basis. I don’t have many regrets over the last few years, as we’ve had to be kind to ourselves, but not securing one of these is one of the few that remain. I look forward to slipping one of these on in chillier months, mark my words.
To finish, I’ll make a point of saying that this small article contains only a tiny, microscopic sample of the talents we have in Ireland, and this is certainly not the last of my lists (my rapidly depleting bank account could tell you that). I chose the designers above due to their skills and philosophies, of course, but also because these are labels I’ve come across by word of mouth or social media, and pieces I have been day dreaming of since then… admittedly for months, if not years.
We welcome all sustainably-striving businesses and creators of all shapes and sizes with open arms. So, don’t be afraid to slide into our DMs with any of your favourite brands or companies we have yet to mention.