From the second I spied her imaginative garms in Atelier 27, Hannah Choy O’Byrne’s work had me hooked. I was instantly struck by her knack for making frills — a former reserve of Laura Ashley frocks and kawaii costumes — look achingly cool. Her soft spot for mustard silks and shots of cobalt was equally commendable, all of which formed the defining traits of her AW16 wares; wares that would later cloak Æ MAK’s founding members for their rousing music video, “I Can Feel It In My Bones”. By the time I stumbled upon these pieces, Choy O’Byrne’s post-grad CV had already ballooned.
First amassing work as a kidswear designer for Dunnes Stones, she returned to cultivating womenswear collections (securing a studio space in Rathmines’ MART, where she would come to exhibit amongst other creatives) whilst tutoring children at a fashion school, ultimately nabbing a Ones to Watch nomination at Kerry Fashion Week. Notwithstanding her domestic success, she was bitten by the Amsterdam bug whilst still in NCAD — having relished a three month internship with Bas Kosters during her BA — and after several months spent travelling around Asia, she swiped up a coveted internship to creatively assist at Viktor & Rolf. The following year was a flurry of tireless graft and technical skill-honing: Choy O’Byrne directly worked with the Head of Atelier on the label’s most tongue-in-cheek couture collection to date, which showcased in Paris this past January. Graphic typography with meme-worthy statements skipped across a rainbow of layered tulle, ripping up the traditional couture rulebook whilst still retaining a strong sense of workmanship.
The experience only enhanced Choy O’Byrne’s thirst for storytelling through fashion — with Dublin now back in her headlights, her foremost creative plan entails “a project relating to the connection between modern society and history, with an emphasis on craft”. A couturier-trained talent — whose work circumvents any fuss or froufrou — could be just what our industry needs.
Words: Amelia O’Mahony Brady