The NCAD fashion department is a chaotic harmony of whirring sewing machines and whistling steam irons, as the final year students prepare their collections for the highly anticipated 2016 Degree Fashion Show. On Tuesday 10th May, 32 graduates will send their collections down the catwalk in the unusual setting of an underground car park. 2016 is a historic year for NCAD as this will be the biggest group of graduates to ever leave the institution at once. As ever, the atmosphere in the design studio is intense with the spirit of making, but contrary to expectation, it runs like a well oiled machine. Famed for its consistency in producing talented designers, NCAD has been a mainstay in generating originality in the fashion industry in Ireland and abroad. This month Totally Dublin features four promising new talents who are exploring concepts as diverse as Frida Kahlo’s empowerment, heritage hi-viz and an escape from the conflict in Lebanon. –AVN
Lina Sarhan, Zuboo
An emigrant from war torn Lebanon, the starting point of Lina’s collection was the contrast between her childhood memories of the journey to Ireland, which at the time she saw as a thrilling adventure, versus her adult understanding of the situation today in hindsight, the reality of war.
In portraying her early recollections of escaping Lebanon, Lina took inspiration from her eponymous toy monkey, Zuboo, even basing this long armed silhouette on his shape. To reflect her current perception, Lina studied imagery of explosions and channeled this energy into her garments through the use of a primarily grey colour scale and by using knit to create the effect of pieces of falling off, symbolising the building coming down and crumbling. “The patterns in this look are based on buildings’ geometric forms, while the ruffles represent outbursts of smoke and the oversheet represents after the explosion,” explains Sarhan. The speckles of colour present amongst the grey tones in each outfit are representative of her childhood. As the collection progressed, Lina realised that “it wasn’t two memories, that it was the same.” In creating this collection, her childhood memory and adult memory converged.
Next year Lina plans to move to Japan where she hopes to improve her Japanese in order to get a “proper internship”. Initially, an admiration for Yohji Yamamoto’s designs was what drew her to Japanese style but later she became fascinated by Japanese street fashion, particularly the Harajuku style. Sarhan has distant plans to launch her own label, but not before she has soaked up all Japan’s radical fashion scene has to offer, no doubt returning with a refined point of view and something fresh and interesting to add to the fold of Irish fashion. –RMcV
Petra Sprenger, Wake up, Sleeping Heart
An interest in Frida Kahlo’s reliance on leather and plaster casts was what sparked the Petra’s broader research into corsetry and other medical instruments used by patients suffering disabilities. “Within the collection, each look is a representation of Frida’s powerful work, including the extreme detail in her pieces,” says Sprenger. Conceptually, the collection is a meditation on the vulnerability, physical loss and weakness that accompanied Frida’s resulting struggle with self image.
Studying fashion design was a natural progression for Petra, the daughter of a costume designer. Growing up in Hungary, a culture steeped in craftsmanship, also instilled a love of handmade goods. She enjoys the structural aspect of her designs and how it allows her to create a contrast, citing Úna Burke, the leather designer known for beautifully architectural pieces, as someone whose work she admires. If she won the internship lottery, Petra would love to work under Vivienne Westwood, another master of the structured garment. Although she says she is somewhat wary of working in a larger company as “you could end up doing unnecessary kinds of bits and pieces, and I really want to be hands on, especially with pattern cutting.” A Masters, preferably at RCA or Central Saint Martins in London, is something Petra feels is important for those that want to improve and become a better designer, saying, “I don’t think I would feel confident just yet.” –RMcV
Jenny Drea, Naked & Adorned
Initially exposed to the fashion industry while working as a fashion model herself, Jenny’s collection explores the model’s part to play within the designer’s process – juxtaposing the simultaneous centrality and visibility of their role with their opposing invisibility where they are treated as little more than a clotheshorse.
The blush pinks, burnt oranges and shades of nude in the collection colours represent the model’s bare skin as the designer’s blank canvas, while the sheer fabrics expose the model’s body and vulnerability. In the creation of her garments, Jenny used laser cutting technology to cut spirals into contemporary sheer and organza fabrics. These were then hand stitched onto the garments in order to create ruffle effects.
Jenny describes final year as “an absolute marathon” and is looking forward to returning to New York and possibly applying for graduate programs with Proenza Schouler or Calvin Klein. However, with a clear penchant for femininity in her designs, Jenny admits Erdem would be the dream house in which to hone her craft. –RMcV
Pearl Reddington, Olann
It was Pearl’s passion for modernising knit which drove her collection. “I wanted to push the boundaries and to break away from the traditions of Irish knit and create a modern collection, using traditional techniques and fabrics but in a way that’s closer to high fashion than to craft.” The incursion of the industrial into the natural environment was the starting point, conceptually, for the collection. This idea was illustrated through the use of subtly coloured, natural fibres contrasted with modern neon and synthetic materials (kindly sponsored by Donegal Yarns.) The garments’ functionality is focused on warmth and protection from the Irish elements, hence the coat’s tent-like shape.
Having been on the fence initially about whether to specialise in fashion or textiles, Pearl now finds that knit falls somewhere in the middle, as it allows her to bring textiles into her fashion. “Being able to make string into garments is really rewarding. You know you make a jumper and think, two weeks ago that was a ball of yarn.”
Pearl won’t be taking part in the annual mass exodus of Irish fashion students this year. Instead she plans to set up shop here in Ireland. Renouncing the perception that designers need to live in London in order to be successful, she explains that though she intends to up-skill at a course in Brighton and eventually pursue a masters, ultimately her aim is to have an independent label here. Her aim: to do something good for Irish knit, the she feels is often a victim of it’s own clichés.“We have so much here so I just want to embrace it fully and do something positive for Irish knit because I feel like it gets sidelined a lot.” –RMcV
Words: Róisín McVeigh & Annique van Niekerk
Photography: Ellius Grace
Photography Assistant: Du Jingze