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The Irish fashion design graduates to watch
Image / Style / Irish Design

A design in latex inspired by the famine by Amy Moroney at NCAD.

The Irish fashion design graduates to watch


by Ruth O'Connor
10th Jun 2024

The future is bright for Ireland’s fashion design graduates; having recently interviewed NCAD’s Dennis Lawless, winner of the 2024 River Island NCAD Fashion Bursary, Lawless has gone on to win this year’s prestigious Brown Thomas ‘Designer to Watch’ Bursary Award too. With themes inspired by the personal and the political, sustainability and diversity, and strong women - both real and mythological - Ruth O’Connor selects 12 of her favourite graduate collections across four of Ireland’s leading fashion colleges.

Rachel McKinney, Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD)

Rachel McKinney, Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD)

Rachel McKinney, Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD)

Rachel McKinney, Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD)

1 Rachel McKinney, Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD)

When Rachel McKinney inherited her great grandmother’s button collection from her time as a seamstress during the Great Depression, World War II and beyond, it got her thinking of her own time working in an alterations shop and the idea of ‘make do and mend’. Drawing inspiration from the buttons, she has created a personal and sustainable collection using secondhand and deadstock materials that’s giving us Americana meets Pearly Queen and we are so here for it.

2 Cosima Sophia Augustin-Malloy Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD)

Augustin-Malloy’s ‘Key Moments’ reminds us that our lives can change in an instant. When her mum became ill, the designer’s sense of the beauty around us became heightened – the blue sky, the grace of roses, the warm sunshine. Another sustainable collection from LSAD, the designer used naturally dyed wools and silks as well as natural silk screen printing inks to produce a collection grounded in appreciation, acceptance and steadfastness in adversity.

3 Leah Marshall, Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD)

Marshall’s ‘I Saw Light’ collection is inspired by the excitement and colour of Malta’s International Firework Festival. The dark skies, the bright colours, the sounds and the people inspired her collection which employs glass beads, crocheted pieces evocative of ‘giggifogu’ or ground fireworks, and beaded fringing and knits strung with beads designed to catch the light and capture the movement of fireworks.

4 Amy Moroney, NCAD

Many young people graduating across Ireland this year will wonder what the future holds for them and whether the cost of living crisis will impact their ability to live and work in this country. Likewise, rising levels of emigration, war and the weaponisation of food on a global scale are themes that prompted Amy Moroney’s cross-disciplinary ‘Sunken Remnants’ or ‘Iarsmaí Báite’ collection that would not look out of place at EPIC or The National Famine Museum with its evocative pieces in latex, wood and rope.

5 Eva Flanagan, NCAD

Eva Flanagan’s collection ‘Her Essence’ centred on the ‘profound yet complex relationship women have with their bodies amidst normative beauty standards’. She has interned with Claire Garvey and Sorcha O’Raghallaigh and is a fan of the work of Sinéad O’Dwyer (read an interview with O’Dwyer in our current print issue). Designed for every body, Flanagan’s playful designs provoke reflection and foster empathy.

6 Emily O’Shea, NCAD

Emily O’Shea’s final collection at NCAD ‘Up the walls and on the ground’ is an inventive, colourful response to overcoming her fears. Her collection is a collision of sorts – on the one hand it explores her early life growing up in the motorbiking community and the contrast between the perceived hard image of the bikers and the softness she experienced. Then there’s a change of direction following her being knocked down on her way to college which led her to focus hard on the details spotted each day as she made her way around the city in order to control her anxiety. There’s a range of t-shirts featuring photos of things spotted or found – from bin bags to rosary beads, dumped flowers and even a seagull eating a snack box. Perfect festival attire.

7 Betty Crichton, Griffith College Dublin

Betty Crichton’s unisex collection INKOGNITO was inspired by artist Banksy’s Cut & Run exhibition and his quote ‘Most artists have an obsession that defines their work. Monet had light, Hockney had colour, I’ve got police response times.’ Thinking about the relationship between graffiti artists and the police, with a grandfather who was a detective sergeant and a fingerprints expert, Crichton used his techniques and handwritten police notebooks in a collection wrought in cotton, denim and canvas.

8 Hee Da, Griffith College Dublin

Inspired by Irish folk legends and Celtic mythology with the goddess Morrigan at its helm, the graduate collection by Hee Da is designed for strong women with an appreciation for materials and craft. Employing the ancient Celtic technique of dying with woad, as well as macrame and vegan leather, the designer has created a collection that draws on Ireland’s ancient landscape and culture.

A design by Hee Da at Griffith Collge Dublin inspired by Celtic mythology and ancient techniques.

9 Abby O’Connell, Griffith College Dublin

Another very personal collection, Abby O’Connell’s 1968 was inspired by the tragic loss of her father in a plane crash. In this collection, leather and denim come together and the designer’s silhouettes draw inspiration from aeroplane wings – emblematic of that tragic flight. The grunge aesthetic reflects the harsh reality of life after loss with 1968 the year of her father’s birth. A visual story that includes her sister’s handwriting and grandmother’s hand-knitted labels, this collection is a love letter to a missing parent and an invocation to others to talk about their grief.

10 Alacoque Daly, The Grafton Academy of Fashion Design

Alacoque Daly’s collection ‘A State of Mind’ explores a ‘journey through the Dark Night of the Soul’ and the idea that clothes can act as armour or masks allowing us to explore and express different versions of ourselves. Her designs play with ideas of concealment and disguise – giving us the power to explore different versions of ourselves and our identity.

11 Grace Leonard, The Grafton Academy of Fashion Design

Grace Leonard’s designs are derived from the Irish landscape – its rolling green fields and rugged mountain ranges, soft moss bogs and crashing coastal waves. Enamoured by the beauty of Ireland, she created four looks for the Grafton Academy show at the NYX Hotel.

12 Lily Davis McGrath, The Grafton Academy of Fashion Design

‘Sororal Strength’ by April Lily encapsulates the power and aesthetic of Frida Kahlo – the artist inspiring her use of the strong colour palette and feminine shapes which allow the wearer to stand out and claim their space.

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