All about the fabric: the creative potential of homegrown fabrics
Starting Sunday, the Showcase 2017 Creative Expo will take place at the RDS, January 22-25, and the highlight will be TextISLE, a special project focusing on the creative potential of fashionable Irish textiles and appliances. Several fashion designers from Ireland were selected to collaborate with Irish wool and linen weavers in the north and south in an innovative and invigorating way and the results will be displayed in the Minerva Suite throughout the event.
"It's a way of driving new ideas into the industry," says Brian McGee of the Irish Design and Crafts Council (DDCoI), who led the initiative, following on to last year's successful fabric project.
When Mariad Whisker addressed John Hanly, one of Ireland's oldest fabric companies in Tipperary, he returned home loaded with 10 fabric bolts, including ecological strips of unbleached natural yarn. The results are the coats and the dresses photographed here. "I love collaborations," he says. "It gives you a bit of a challenge - you're in someone else's space and outside your comfort zone."
Peter O'Brien traveled to Carlingford Lough at Morne Textiles, famous for his work with Sybil Connolly in the 1950s, and immediately fell in love with a black and white woven basket weave that was originally made for Connolly, which has been Transformed into a flamboyant coat with flashlight sleeves and a strapless ladies linen tops, boned bodice.
Lucy Clarke from Elks has created adult versions of her children's tweed wear with Magee from Donegal, and 31 Chapel Lane (an Irish-Australian association) in Limerick collaborated with Emblem Weavers in Wexford for skirts and apron dresses Lovely linens shown here.
Elsewhere, Helen Steele has worked closely with Ceadogán Rugs; Deirdre Duffy based on Claremorris by Wild Cocoon with Donegal Yarns and Cooper Handcraft; Electronic sheep with fisherman outside of Ireland; And Nuala Goodman of Milan, with Fergusons of Banbridge, the only company in the world that manufactures double damask clothing.
"It's not about massive amounts, but small amounts of high-end goods. Ireland can never compete in volume, but we can maintain rural jobs in rural areas that produce luxury goods for the international market. We are looking, "says McGee.
Craft collaborations are now an important feature of international design fairs and Showcase is now one of Ireland's largest international fairs. Elsewhere in Showcase, Design Ireland, another DDCoI initiative, will feature 90 Irish brands chosen for their creativity, innovation and craftsmanship,
Showcase runs from Sunday, January 22 to Wednesday, January 25 in the RDS for commercial assistance only.