Sean McGirr: An Irishman Abroad.

November 24, 2010
Have you heard? Ireland’s just gone down the plughole. Yes, we may have developed into a semi-fashion-savvy state with the aid of the Celtic Tiger (it’s disputable, but only barely – money helps), attracting international brands from the likes of Forever 21 (who recently opened their first European store here in Dublin) to New Look (who unveiled their largest store to date just a stone’s throw from the former), but we’re now firmly positioned within the pinch, what with our recent accepting of an approx. €70 billion bailout.

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^ Sean McGirr worn by Next model Ben Warnock, shot by Rokas Roch
As a result, many of us – especially those involved in the more creative spheres of art, fashion, and design – are eyeing-up opportunities to emigrate. It’s a shame, but try telling Irish fashion grads that, “If the opportunities aren’t there, then make them!”, when they’re barely able to fund the electricity to power their bloody sewing machines, let alone secure a steady market for their wares. Ireland is a small nation, and although the recently launched TV advert for Dublin Airport’s second terminal reminds us of just how much we’ve achieved for such a tiny spot in the Atlantic, we’ve never enjoyed a stable fashion industry that nurtures young talent here.
Which brings to me to the point of this post – an ode to all the Irish ripping it up abroad, menswear designer Sean McGirr amongst them. Having made the move from Dublin to London on completion of a portfolio course, this fellow countryman is steadily making his mark on the international world of menswear. Still studying in London, he’s managed to secure projects with left-of-centre publications like Vogue Hommes Japan (assisting Fashion Editor Shun Watanabe), as well as a position at Burberry. I found out just a bit more about the Dublin-born designer…

MM: What drew you to fashion? And more, specifically, to menswear design?

SM: It started during my adolescence. I would experiment with dyes and materials on cheap clothing. I always enjoyed painting and this was the result of an interest in both clothing and art coming together. Design then came afterwards. I guess specialising in menswear never seemed like a choice. It just felt completely natural that i’d go in this direction.

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^ More from the Rokas Rach shoot. Love how McGirr combines the rawness of a deconstructed approach with the more playful, boyish details like the big buttons and sleeveless arms.

MM: What motivated you to move to London? Was it the lack of education for your chosen craft, or something more?

SM: For me it just wasn´t right to study fashion outside of a fashion capital. I love Dublin and Ireland so much! But I was definitely ready to leave. I think the motivation on moving to London came from also from social reasons, not just educational. A teenage boy in Dublin is supposed to fit into a specific catagory factoring in your appearence, sexual preference, musical tastes etc. I wasn´t happy with this so instead, moving to London was also a way of creating my own social identity.

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^ McGirr’s accessories feature in a beauty story equal parts high-octane glam and punk for Vogue Hommes Japan (September 2010).

MM: Do you feel your nationality/heritage influences your work?

SM: I think it influences everything else I am besides fashion. So, no, not in the way say Vivienne Westwood´s British sensibility has influenced her work.

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^ McGirr’s collection Beauty Stricken inspired by a Ballet Russes production of the ballet ‘Narcissus’. This collection uses, amongst other fabrics, suede and mohair is rendered in colours reminiscent of those one might imagine occurring in the Greek protagonist’s environment  – moss greens, and soft flesh pink. It also addresses one of the most topical stories in menswear right now – the ever-increasing feminisation of the male form and how it’s adorned. McGirr, much like myself, reckons this isn’t an emasculation in a negative sense, but more a blurring a softening of once dominant gender stereotypes.

MM: How would you describe your aesthetic?

SM: Simple – experimental use of high quality fabrics, close attention to trimmings and everything together comes after that.

MM: What are your plans for the future?

SM: To launch an Autumn Winter 2011 collection early next year, travel back to Japan soon and keep on working an intense schedule.

For more check out Sean’s blog and website.