Pictures from Steve’s LCF MA collection – Regalia What led you to menswear as a field of study?
Fashion was never my intended career choice, I always had an interest in architecture and product design so I entered Dublin’s National College of Art and Design to study Industrial Design. After almost a year I realised it just wasn’t creative enough for me and made a snap decision to transfer to fashion and I have never looked back!
You seem to have incorporated architectural references as well as pointers to military design in your work. How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Architecture has always been a huge interest of mine and when it became apparent that it wasn’t right for me as a career choice I always knew that it would influence my work as a designer.
Can you tell us about your NCAD graduate collection which was inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright?
Yes, my NCAD graduate collection was based on the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright, I found him inspirational as he was so innovative and ahead of his time. Some of his work which is almost a century old still looks futuristic, having said that, I find a certain timelessness to all his work. He also never just designed a building but he also considered its contents and surrounding landscape, he was obsessive about detail. It is this attention to detail that is so important in menswear which is why I design complete outfits including accessories such as bags and belts.
^ Solomon Guggenheim Museum by Frank Loyd Wright
Your MA collection addresses concepts of militarism, hierarchy and coding through design (the crystal embellishment). Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind, and production of, this collection?
My MA collection, “Regalia”, is based on the obsession that society has with branding. It looks at how far we have taken brand logos, for example the Gucci or Louis Vuitton logos which you can find emblazoned across a plethora of products both real or counterfeit.
The placement of the crystals were inspired the work of the sculptor Richard Long who creates vast works out of stone and wood within the landscapes in which he finds them.
The collection was produced here in London with most of the fabrics either being French or Italian including double faced silks, 100% cashmeres and crocodile embossed leathers. I individually designed all of the crystal components which were hand made in Hong Kong. ^ Sahara Line by Richard Long
This collection also fuses a distinctly feminine aesthetic with the obviously masculine connotations of the military. Do you feel menswear is now embracing the traditionally ‘feminine’ in some way? I have always been a fan of feminine colour palettes and fabrics so I have combined these with very structured masculine shapes. I think the male consumer is becoming more adventurous and willing to explore softer colours and more luxurious fabrics. Both high-street and high-end menswear is becoming increasingly feminine, even though I realise it would take a braver man than most to wear my collection down the street!
Being an Irishman, do you feel you heritage informs your aesthetic or the way in which you work at all?
I feel that my Irish heritage certainly influenced my BA collection which included oversized chunky hand-knitted jumpers but, having moved to London, I was influenced by a huge range of other things which maybe overshadowed this aspect of my designs. I was keen to incorporate Irish components in my work and had begun working with Waterford Crystal on the crystal elements of the garments but unfortunately the downturn in the economy meant that they were no longer able to take part in the project.
Do you have a favourite designer?
There are many designers which I love, but no one that I am obsessive about. Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme was one of my favourite design collaborations, Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy is probably my favourite womenswear designer. Burberry is one of my all-time favourite labels as it’s infinitely wearable and beautifully made.You were recently awarded the Guo scholarship which will see you travel to China, tell us more about this opportunity and what you’ll get up to in China. Any other plans for the near future?
Yes! It is a really great opportunity. On top of helping to pay back some of my mounting student loan I will be travelling to Hong Kong for a year to design a range of menswear and womenswear for Yishion. I will be travelling a lot for sourcing and research so I can’t wait to get started! After that, who knows, London is my favourite place right now so I think I will eventually end up back here…
There are also some other projects coming up which I am really excited about but I’ll have to wait and see how things pan out. I’m in talks with Harrods at the moment, and when I’m back in London in two weeks, i’ll be off to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen which is a huge honour and something I’m really looking forward to!
Images from Wikipedia and Richard Long
Loved this interview Cillian!