The first time I crossed paths with Ciarna Pham – a fellow colour and print fiend who thrives under the moniker ‘KIKI NA ART’ – was at a Dublin Christmas Bazaar in Smithfield’s Block T.
Back then, blissfully, the capital’s most beloved markets weren’t at risk of eviction, and Folkster still organised knock-out kilo sales (a new phenomenon on Irish shores) as Shutterbug Vintage.
Her display table was full-to-the-brim with familiar faces in fashion, art and music, their portraits seamlessly cut-and-pasted onto collage-esque necklaces and earrings.
Statement jewellery this certainly was, and after some split-second hovering I reached out for a neckpiece replete with David Bowie’s mug; an eruption of rainbow hues dancing behind him.
In the years that have shot by since, Kiki has concocted both collections and custom orders at a staggering rate, her chosen subjects – stretching from Debbie Harry and Bjork to Father Dougal Maguire – reading like a diverse, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, always feminist Hall of Fame.
Pham’s backstory is fascinating, and vividly detailed in a 2017 piece by our former fashion editor Sinead O’Reilly: attempting to nutshell it just wouldn’t do justice. But as far as her present-day work is concerned – conjured up with a strong social conscience, and a generous seasoning of maximalism – the pieces speak for themselves.
Words: Amelia O’Mahony-Brady