From an ethical education to default sustainability, recent fashion design graduate Sarah Murphy tells Totally Dublin how less waste can be a product of the traditional.
“You end up being sustainable if you appreciate a craft,” begins Murphy, the designer, who is just one year out of college and knee deep in her second commercial collection. “My things almost end up being sustainable by default because of the way I create. They are couture, one off pieces or three at the most. They are all hand knit and hand sewn; this naturally makes my garments more sustainable, because I am not mass producing.” Simply, she adds, “There is less waste how I make it.”
What Murphy makes is an exquisite range of knits. However not what you would readily expect from the woollen label. When asked to describe her debut commercial collection, which was featured on request from Brown Thomas for their annual Create exhibition, the designer is left somewhat lost.
“It’s a mental collection,” she laughs, and upon hesitating on how to pinpoint its aesthetic she explains the run around that preceded the presentation.
“I was so shocked to be asked. I was literally out of college five minutes and I had no idea what I was doing. They were giving me stock lists to fill out and didn’t even know what they were. I was on the phone to Helen asking for advice on everything.” Helen is Helen Cody, celebrated Irish designer who Murphy interned with after graduating. “It was just a lot to go from a student collection to a commercial one in no time at all.”
Murphy pauses again when describing her collection. “It’s kind of like this,” she says, pulling at the jumper she has on. She grabs at a deep green turtle neck knit. The wool is thick yet intricately woven, embellished with soft faux fur in the same tone. Perhaps indescribable, but totally unforgettable.
Finding her words once more, Murphy continues. “My work features lots of traditional Aran textures incorporated into modern styles. I love traditional knitwear but it’s always the same, there’s never anything different. I wanted to be a bit wild. From there I forged the idea of a modern crossover.”
One of the collections most show-stopping pieces from Murphy is an Aran knit meshed into a tulle ball gown. Wild ideas, or mildly so, is something Murphy has experience with prior to her work as a designer.
“I used to be a kindergarten teacher,” she recalls with good humour, “for three years – and I absolutely hated it. It’s probably terrible to say you hate kids, but working there brought me close. I left and then had the crazy idea that I wanted to study fashion design, so I did,” she says, in a matter of fact way. “I did a PLC for two years and then went straight into second year of Griffith College.”
“I loved art as a child, but never got the chance to study it until college,” she admits, laughing. “I got kicked out of art class in secondary school, I think the teacher thought that I was a little bit uncontrollable.”
Upon starting her PLC, she admits that “I really wanted to do it but I was so nervous. Everyone else there could draw. I didn’t even know that pencils had letters and numbers on them. I had no idea what I was doing. But it was good. I think if you love it, you love it. I felt like it all just came really natural to me.”
“Being a mature student made me more driven, I believe, though nobody treats me that way, possibly because I look like I’m 12. But still it’s made me more driven, definitely.”
Murphy’s drive can be seen clearly through her first collections just months after her graduation. She has stocked a micro collection in Om Diva on Drury Street and in full in Havana in Donnybrook. On her full collection she exclaims: “It still seems insane to be sandwiched on a rail between Simone Rocha and Comme des Garcon. So weird that I’m there, with my very own collection.”
To find out more about Sarah Murphy head to sarahmurphyireland.wixsite.com
Words: Sinead O’Reilly
Images: Juste Brazauskaite