Tuesday, 27 June 2017

NCAD Fashion Graduate Exhibition 2017

As a great lover of Irish design, I've always paid attention to the grad collections coming out of NCAD each year but this year was the first where I attended the graduate exhibition. Which is precisely why I was so taken aback. I, mistakenly, believed I could just pop in and out of the show and catch up with the bestie while doing it.

Not so. There was so much to see. I had always focused on the fashion graduates and hadn't really considered just how many talented art and design creatives were coming out of the college each year.

By the time I made my way to the fashion section, I was already well and truly blown away - and mighty envious at how bravely and fiercely everyone had exposed themselves and their work - but it was definitely the highlight for me.

Each year, the college produces some incredible talents but there was something about the spirit and overall combination of the collections this year that struck me as special. I was intrigued by all of the collections and hope that the designers in question don't all have to leave us, but get to work as bright talents here. However, I did have my highlights and favourites.

The first of these was Danielle McGregor, who I ended up chatting to and later interviewing. Not only is she an absolute dote but her menswear collection was - both aesthetically and conceptually - right up my alley. Inspired by her interest in the idea of masculinity and the wardrobes of the three generations of men in her life, it acts as an analysis and challenging of what "masculine" dress is and can be. Presented in soft pinks and pastels, florals, mesh, both formal structure and overalls and emblazoned with the ironic label "Mansize", it is both a very cool and wearable streetwear-inspired collection and a thoughtful reflection on the modern man.

If Danielle's collection is intellectually charged, then Colin Burke's collection is very much propelled by emotion. Inspired by his granny, Maureen, the plush collection incorporates her cherished possessions and reinvents them; crocheted broached daffodils are layered with print and a Connemara shawl is reimagined through the deconstruction of a farmer’s jacket. And while Danielle questions "masculine" dress, Colin embraces typically "feminine" aspects of dress, exaggerating silhouettes and eschewing practicality for dramatic effect - something that was also visible in his theatrical tulle creations that I saw at the Galway Fashion Trail last November.

Finally, the collection that most caught my eye in terms of wanting to actually put the clothes on my body was by Christopher Cannon. Or, rather, these clothes were the clothes that the version of myself I long to be would wear. These are clothes for a far more elegant and poised version of me. An alternate universe where I'm less tomboyish and clumsy and more polished and effortless. Based around his personal relationship with clothing and experiences as a drag artist, his palette of blush tones is a thing of refined beauty and his silhouettes are classics with a tasteful twist.

Having spoken to Danielle and heard her concerns about the lack of work for young creatives (I hears ya!) in Ireland and desire to keep more of them here, I can't help but look back at the images I took from the exhibition with my own concerns. We produce so much more artistic talent than such a small nation should, I can only hope that we have to send less of it away to others and can nurture more wonderful artists and designers into maturation at home. Imagine what Ireland of the future could look like (and how well dressed it could be) then?

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Sheena Garvey


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Anja Maye


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Laoise Carey

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Jasmin Stanbridge

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Christopher Cannon

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Colin Burke

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Danielle McGregor


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